In the competitive field of banking Commerce Bank in West Chester has managed to not only survive but also thrive by being different. 

Commerce Bank has one location in the Greater Cincinnati market while its competitors have multiple locations. When Commerce Bank entered the Greater Cincinnati market in 2002 with its acquisition of an equipment financing company the bank found that its customers weren’t concerned that it didn’t have a retail bank presence, says Steve Bloemer, senior vice president and manager of corporate banking.

“Our corporate clients are using technology and they’re using the internet,” he says. And because Commerce Bank has always been a strong investor in technology its customers are able to easily access its products.

“We’re able to deliver really high-quality products and services directly to the client without the need for a big retail distribution network,” says Bloemer.

Another important difference between Commerce Bank and its competition is the ability to offer custom solutions for its clients, he says. “We have all these really big mega banks where it’s kind of one-size-fits-all,” Bloemer says. Commerce Bank not only offers a custom solution but a traditional relationship approach, he says.

“We tell [potential clients] about Commerce Bank and they go, ‘Wow! Commerce Bank is the way banking used to be before all this consolidation,’” Bloemer says. That’s because Commerce Bank has a “super-community” focus, he says. 

That means providing high-touch, high-quality customer service with good products and services with a traditional relationship approach, says Bloemer. “Those things have been very powerful,” he says.

“We are big enough that we have a lot of great products and a lot of great technologies that are very powerful in the middle market,” Bloemer says. “But we still consider ourself a community bank. And that has allowed us to grow successfully in a hypercompetitive bank market in Cincinnati over the last 11 years.”

By targeting its core commercial customers, who tend to be companies that make something or do something—”bread and butter businesses”—has fueled the bank’s growth, he says. Those companies are typically privately held, multigenerational businesses, says Bloemer.

By providing custom solutions to those clients Commerce Bank has been able to grow to 15 employees, he says. Since 2005 Commerce Bank has added a full service of commercial banking products, in addition to equipment finance, treasury management, merchant services, accounts payable automation and health services financing, Bloemer says.

Although Commerce Bank has just one Greater Cincinnati location it has 190 locations nationwide. In addition Commerce Bank nationwide has $24.7 billion in assets, which is No. 36 among U.S. banks; $4.6 billion market cap, which is No. 25 among U.S. banks; and the Commerce Trust Co. oversees $40 billion in assets under administration and $24 billion in assets under management, ranking it No. 22 in the nation. 

“Our motto has always been to establish good, long-standing relationships with our corporate clients and customize our products and solutions to meet their needs,” Bloemer says. “If we can’t bring value added to the table with our super-community model we wouldn’t be successful.”