1st National branch set to close its doors

NEW CUMBERLAND – The New Cumberland branch of 1st National Community Bank will close in December after several years of declining foot traffic.

The branch, which sits at the junction of state Routes 2 and 8 on the north side of New Cumberland, has been part of the 1st Bank family since 1997 but, more recently, has suffered from the growth of online banking, said Stephen Sant, president and chief executive officer of Tri-State 1st Banc Inc., the parent company of 1st National Community Bank.

Branch customers recently were informed of the impending closing in a letter.

“We’re experiencing in that branch the same thing the banking industry is experiencing as a whole: Customers are adapting to online banking, mobile banking and more use of ATMs,” Sant said.

The New Cumberland branch’s last day of business will be Dec. 13, after which time all four employees will be reassigned.

“No employees are losing their jobs,” Sant said.

According to its 2012 annual report, 1st Bank currently employs 64 full-time and part-time officers and employees.

Bank officials have noticed a trend toward less activity at the branch in the last two to four years, Sant said.

“It was very easy to see. In the industry as a whole, you see less and less transactions going on in branches because people are using more convenient ways to do their banking,” he said.

The volume of in-office transactions in New Cumberland decreased so substantially, Sant said, that “we just were not able to profitably sustain the branch. We’re still serving the customers; they’re just choosing to use other means than the branch.”

Chartered in East Liverpool in 1987, 1st Bank opened the New Cumberland branch in 1997 when it purchased the building from United National Bank, Sant said. The company has since grown to five branches in the area, including Calcutta, downtown East Liverpool, Lisbon and Midland, Pa.

It retains two free-standing ATMs in New Cumberland – one in the Sparkle market and one in the Hancock County Courthouse.

Sant said the New Cumberland branch’s closing will have a “minimal impact” on the company’s earnings.

The bank showed record earnings in 2012, according to its annual report. Total assets grew by 4.5 percent to $135.6 million, and total deposits and retail repurchase agreements grew by 3.9 percent to $119.2 million, the 2012 annual report said.

Earnings in 2012 were $987,357 – a 23.8 percent increase from 2011, the annual report said.

Sant said the New Cumberland building will be cleaned and put up for sale.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)