When the $3.2 billion Midland States Bank purchased Heartland Bank in 2015, its Colorado Springs mortgage lending division was part of the deal. After studying the Springs market, Midland management decided to open a full branch bank, hiring Colorado Springs banking veteran Jon Hollman, 52. The branch is now temporarily operating at The 9th Floor in Plaza of the Rockies. Hollman, his wife Cyndi and son William moved to Colorado Springs in 1998 from Texas, where he entered the industry 34 years ago during the pre-internet period of computer punch cards and large floppy discs. He spent time this week talking about banking and business in the Springs and his role as commercial relationship manager, building business for the bank.
What is Midland States Bank?
It’s a public company founded in 1881 that’s now traded on the NASDAQ. It’s based in Effington, Ill., and we have 70 locations. We did an [initial public offering] in May and raised $80 million. We hope to have our [Colorado Springs] location fully open in 18 months. On the back of our business cards are the words, “Great strength. More heart.” When our group went to visit with the senior management, from tellers all the way up to the CEO, they speak to it. It’s not just great strength and more heart with customers, but also between employees, meaning that we’re all supporting each other, and I like that. For a CEO of a $3.2 billion company that would take the time to sit down with a group of individuals from Colorado Springs, I really like that.
What drew you to banking?
I kind of got trapped in banking. My sole intention when I got out of high school was to go into computer science. I was working in the computer room at the bank at night, sorting checks and running computer jobs with the vacuum cards [while going to college during the day]. It gave me the fundamentals of how banking works. … Then I went to commercial lending, helping to do yield analysis and spreadsheets. I went from that bank to Houston to work in the commercial lending and then consolidated banking. I began working during the day and went to school at night.
Outside work, how are you involved in the business community?
I’ve been an ambassador through the chamber [of commerce], and now with the [Colorado Springs] Regional Business Alliance, since 2000. We’re developing a really good group. There’s been a core group of people who have stuck through all the changes. The ambassadors provide support to the Regional Business Alliance and all the events they put on and help spread the word of all the benefits the RBA brings to the business community.
What have been your major challenges?
I’ve been very fortunate not to have major challenges. Banking is constantly evolving. With the conveniences of the internet and e-banking, which is great for our customers, it takes away from the personal touch. You’re still wanting your customers to know about the conveniences, which is a big selling point for customers, you can do all your banking by internet or by phone.
How is the industry challenged?
It’s almost like you’re encouraging people not to come visit you, but if you don’t have that personal connection with your clients, you’re missing out on opportunities. The biggest thing to overcome is making sure you’re continuing to offer products and services that tend to encourage [customers] to stay away [because of e-banking], but still allow them to reach out and stay in touch with you. That’s a big obstacle in banking. It’s a challenge to make sure you’re meeting their needs.
How do you overcome that?
Stay in touch with the customers. You’ve got to reach out to your customers more than they reach out to you. You’ve got to go visit with them. You call them. I have clients who were my customers at previous banks. Just because I’ve moved banks doesn’t mean what I’ve done with people at previous banks isn’t right for them. [A previous client] still calls me now. Anytime he wants to buy equipment he’ll call me and ask what I think he should do.
How has banking changed?
Banking has evolved to the benefit of the customers. We wouldn’t have the business culture we have today without the banking system that’s developed. Now, we can send money to China today, when it would take two weeks or longer 20 years ago.
What do you do outside work?
I help out at Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping; I work out there and instruct there daily. I attend church at Fellowship of the Rockies and sing in the praise team there. We have [family property] in the Cuchara Valley and we go down there as often as we can. I’m very fortunate my grandparents bought it in the 1950s and we purchased the house in the 1960s. I love being able to be up in the mountains in 10 minutes.