2020 Annual Report
A Look Back, A Look Ahead
A Message from Our President and Chairman of the Board of Directors
As we reflect on 2020 and the continuing effects of the pandemic during 2021, we can’t help but marvel over the uncommon valor showed by our employees and the entire community banking industry in the face of this overwhelming adversity. Upon being classified as an essential business by the federal government in the early stages of the pandemic, our employees rose to the challenge of continuing to serve our customers and played a key role in helping numerous small businesses, and something we celebrate with this report.
Upon the onset of the pandemic, our employees worked feverishly to adapt to the difficult environment with which we were faced. Be it our front-line employees adapting to safely serving our customers or the back-office staff who quickly mobilized to work from home, it was an effort that was nothing short of extraordinary. An effort that showed extreme resiliency in the face of rough and unchartered waters.
We were there for our commercial customers providing $68 Million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to keep their businesses open and their workers employed. We were there for our customers who were struggling financially to make their loan payments. As community bankers, we answered these calls for help. We supported numerous nonprofits in the communities we serve with donations as demand for their services reached record highs. We were there as a pillar in the community as we have been for the past 160-plus years.
As community bankers, we thank our employees for being “economic first responders” and for the role they played being a critical part of the solution during this difficult moment in our history. We would also like to recognize and thank the healthcare workers and first responders for the difficult work they faced and their herculean efforts in saving so many lives.
During this feat of navigating the pandemic throughout 2020, we also diligently laid the foundation for our Bank consolidation plans as we entered into a new and exciting era for our organization in 2021. Effective January 4, 2021, we successfully consolidated our three state banking charters under Northwest Community Bank, with Collinsville Bank and Litchfield Bancorp as operating divisions. Under this structure, our banks maintain their brand identities and provide us with operational efficiencies that will allow us to compete as a thriving community bank for generations to come. Importantly, no employees lost their job and no branches were closed as a result of this consolidation, which served to solidify our historical commitment to mutuality.
As we are now fully immersed in 2021, we remain cautiously optimistic that the pandemic will be behind us soon as the light at the end of the tunnel continues to brighten. We continue to operate in a very strong financial position with healthy earnings and a strong balance sheet with exceptional asset (loan) quality and a strong capital position. We continue to experience robust growth in the form of loans and deposits, and look forward to welcoming customers into our two newest branch locations in Farmington and Simsbury.
In closing, we feel this is not a period in time to forget. Rather, it is a time to remember. A time to remember how we as a vibrant community and local bank came together to address the biggest challenge of our lifetimes. We are proud of what we accomplished in serving our customers and thank you for the trust you have bestowed in us and for your continued support. As we look forward to the bright rays of hope on the horizon, we hope you remain safe and healthy, and that a world of normalcy returns for all of you very soon.
Stephen P. Reilly
William J. Shea II
Stephen P. Reilly
President & CEO
William J. Shea II
A Dedicated Team, Loyal Customers, Caring Communities
Many Reasons to be Proud and Thankful
2020 presented unique challenges to our entire staff: working from home, learning from home and staying safe at home. Yet our team rose to those challenges, adapting to new ways of working while striving for minimal impact to our customers. Bank Management and the Board of Directors couldn’t be more proud of our employees’ hard work and dedication to the Bank, its customers and the communities we serve. Here are a few examples of GOOD news in 2020:
Supporting the United Way Campaign
Each year, the Banks generously participate in the United Way campaign. 2020 was no exception. Employees pledged more than $17,000, and with the Banks’ match, $34,000 was contributed to the United Way to help local agencies and programs.
Honoring Front-Line Workers
At the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Bank recognized the tireless efforts of the doctors, nurses, and staff at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital. As a small token of our appreciation, the Banks presented a donation of $1,000 worth of snacks to be enjoyed by our health care heroes.
Raising Funds for Local Charities
After thoughtful consideration, the Bank was pleased to join our co-sponsor Brooks, Todd & McNeil Insurance in presenting our 20th Annual BLN Charity Golf outing on September 14th. While it looked a little different with a limited number of golfers and social distancing, everyone came together to help create a successful and safe event that raised $27,000 for 5 local charities that help the most vulnerable in our communities. Over 20 years, this event alone has raised a total of over $517,000!
The Banks partnered with Miller Farms to distribute turkeys to all our employees as a thank-you for their hard work during such a challenging year. In addition, for each turkey distributed to an employee, one was also donated to local food pantries. Some employees generously "paid it forward" by donating their turkey and a total of 206 turkeys were distributed among area food pantries.
Our own Steve Reilly was honored with the 2020 Business Leader Award from the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce at their annual Celebration of Success virtual event. The Chamber continued its tradition of recognizing individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional and unselfish service to the Northwest Corner of Connecticut.
Making A Difference
Community Banking At It's Best
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
After Congress approved the CARES Act, our teams jumped into action and worked in shifts throughout the day and night to secure PPP funds for our customers.
Following stay-at-home orders and state officials requiring the closure of businesses, we recognized our communities were going to be impacted significantly. We were able to provide emergency assistance to over 330 mortgage borrowers and 170 commercial loan customers who requested payment deferments during the COVID-19 crisis. We waived all Insufficient, Uncollected Funds and Early Withdrawal Penalties on CDs for 60 days at the start of the pandemic.
Best of the Valley
Collinsville Bank was voted "Best Bank" by the readership of The Valley Press. It is a great honor to serve our community and we appreciate the recognition.
In 2020, we opened two new locations to better serve our customers.
Our New Branch in Farmington, CT
In September, following social distancing protocols, we held a small gathering, for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at our new Farmington branch, which had opened in February 2020.
Our New Branch in Simsbury, CT
In December, we had a soft opening of our Simsbury branch, followed by the official ribbon-cutting in January 2021.
Record-Setting Year of Home Sales
The pandemic inspired local people and out-of-state residents alike to make a move and to purchase new homes. In 2020, our Banks wrote 572 mortgages - totaling $129 Million—a significant increase from the previous year. Of those 572 mortgages, we were able to make the dream of homeownership possible for 29 first-time homebuyers.
The Bank is proud to partner with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston to provide additional grant programs to qualified borrowers using their Equity Builder and HOW programs.
Higher Demand for
Home Improvement Loans
While spending more time at home, borrowers recognized the need for home improvements and there was steady growth in those loans. We were happy to help our customers feather their nests.
All the while, the Banks also migrated to a new Loan Origination System for both residential and consumer loans to streamline many processes.
The COVID-19 crisis saw the Banks and our customers adjusting to how banking transactions can be done. Some customers who were hesitant about signing up for eBanking and Mobile Banking reconsidered their options and realized how easy and secure it is. The Banks made updates to our Online and Mobile Banking platforms, bringing together a new look and enhanced features.
Always together, even while apart
One of the things we missed the most when we closed our lobbies in response to CDC recommendations, was seeing our customers and co-workers in person. We were happy to continue to assist with our customer’s needs via our drive-ups, telephone and with appointments as needed.
Our employees quickly adjusted to ever changing conditions to ensure customers continued to receive the best customer service possible. Our retail staff were front-line essential workers who showed up with a smile … even if you couldn’t see it behind their masks! Our support staff members were able to transition to remote work with new “work-from-home“ set-ups, including video conferencing. Even our annual holiday party was held via Zoom in 2020!