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Commerce Bank Is Coming

Commerce Bank is planning an August groundbreaking for the new branch it's building in the Marketplace at Centre Ridge Shopping Center. And Senior Vice President Brian Monday says residents will especially appreciate the bank's long hours.

IT'LL BE open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. And Monday says Commerce truly lives up to its slogan billing itself as "America's most convenient bank."

"We know that so many people here have tremendous commute times, so having a bank open at convenient times is important," he explained. "And Commerce has been a leader in this. We believe in having that accessibility."

Commerce has more than 320 branches in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware and plans to open 55-60 more this year. One just opened on Route 234 in Manassas, and Centreville's will be the fifth opening in the Washington Metropolitan area. Another is planned for Herndon in early 2006.

"Of the larger banks in the U.S., we're the 30th-largest and have $33 billion in assets," said Monday. "This is a huge step for us to come down here — a major commitment."

The 3,700-square-foot bank in Centreville will be built at the corner of Multiplex Drive and Machen Road. Full banking services and drive-throughs will be available, plus an ATM inside the bank in a lighted, glass foyer. Two entrances are planned from Multiplex, but none from Centrewood Drive.

Commerce will connect existing trails within the Centre Ridge community, near the Centreville Multiplex Cinemas and the shopping center. And it'll add plantings and benches along the main roads. "I think it'll be an asset," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). "The community gets something out of it, too."

THE BANK prides itself on what it calls "WOW!" service, well above the norm. "We have over-the-top service," said Monday. "That's why it's had such incredible growth in the markets it's been in. Our call center, 1-888-751-1000, is open 365 days/year, 24 hours/day. It's set to pick up on the second ring, and you'll get a live person on that ring."

And there's more. "On rainy days, we have greeters with umbrellas," said Monday. "And your dog is welcome — we'll have dog biscuits." Commerce also offers free coin-counting — even for pennies. And compared with the usual, six or seven full-time employees in banks, Monday says Commerce has 20-25 in each branch.

"We try to make sure people don't wait in lines," he said. There'll also be no line ropes because, he said, "We want people to have a sense of coming into something that's warm and welcoming."

Monday said the bank's won awards for its customer service and the way it's wowed its customers. And he said customers even write fan mail about the employees and, based on what they say, Commerce selects the top people in each of their positions and rewards them with, for example, a special trip.

"We believe a bank really gets defined at the service level," he said. "I can't make my money any greener, but I can provide great service and go the extra mile for them.

It's also a fun bank, said Monday: "Employees wear red on Fridays, and we always have some form of entertainment. 'Mr. C,' our mascot, a giant red 'C,' walks around, and we also have bands playing."

Besides that, he said, "Commerce is a community bank, and we ask each branch manager to get involved in the community and help out where they can."

MONDAY SAID the bank's chairman and founder, Vernon Hill (originally from Vienna), believes people ought to have a great experience at their bank and not have to pay a lot of fees. For example, said Monday, "We never charge for remote use of ATMs, and we now have a new account. If you leave $2,500 in your checking account, we'll reimburse you for your fees you paid elsewhere. It's great for travelers."

Commerce also offers free checking, with no minimum balance required to write checks without having to pay a service charge. And it has free, VISA, ATM debit cards and free, online bill payment. "We're more interested in having happy customers," said Monday. "It's how we grow."

He said Hill chose Centreville for this bank because he likes places with "a good sense of community, and our customers will identify with the local service they receive."