Horizon Bank downtown Fort Wayne branch

Horizon Bank moved all its Allen County employees to this downtown Fort Wayne branch and a branch on the city’s north side at 9835 Lima Road.

Horizon Bancorp closed three Horizon Bank branches during the second quarter and consolidated five branches that came with its March acquisition of Salin Bancshares, Inc. and Salin Bank and Trust Co.

In Allen County Horizon went from a branch and a loan production office prior to the acquisition, to two branches.

A second quarter earnings report said the Salin branch consolidations took place in coordination with an April 26 core data conversion, which integrated its branch network with Horizon’s. The three Horizon branch closings occurred a week earlier. The report said Horizon also plans to close a branch in September.

“Along with the systems integrations, the rebranding took place the weekend of April 27, 2019, and everything went smoothly,” Horizon spokeswoman Cindy Pressinell said in a recent email addressing branch network changes.

“On Monday, April 29th, we were a newly merged Horizon Bank — complete with sign changes. This type of change always causes some questions, so we brought in experienced Horizon bankers to all former Salin branches for several weeks to partner while providing support to our newly combined customers.”

The earnings report showed Horizon closed a loan production office the day of the data conversion; it was located on Auburn Park Drive in Fort Wayne. One of the branches the bank closed was in Woodburn. One of the Salin branches it consolidated was on State Street in Fort Wayne.

The Salin branch on State Street was consolidated into two remaining Fort Wayne Salin locations, downtown at 110 West Main Street and on the city’s north side at 9835 Lima Road.

“With the close proximity of these two offices — one just 5 miles away — it allowed us to continue to serve customers from just two locations,” Pressinell said.

“The extended hours we are able to offer with our live video banking in the drive ups at each remaining location from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday provides added convenience to customers,” she said.

“We continually track results of customer retention and to date, we have been very pleased to have retained over 95% of Salin customers. This is an excellent metric considering annual customer attrition in banking due to relocation, divorce and death is typically 6% across the industry.”

All branch employees Horizon and Salin had in Allen County were retained to allow customers to continue banking with the familiar faces of their trusted bankers, Pressinell said. Horizon’s workforce in the county more than doubled to 13 from five.

“Horizon customers working in Fort Wayne and living in surrounding communities appreciate access to banking services in Fort Wayne. The Fort Wayne offices provide all customers with extended banking hours through Live Video Banking,” she said.

“The efficiencies gained in an acquisition are recognized through consolidation and centralization of operational processes more than a reduction of front line employees serving customers.”

Horizon has seen increasing use of online and mobile banking among its customers, with double-digit growth in online channels, but it still finds they appreciate the kind of personal, face-to-face service available in a branch, Pressinell said.

“Our decisions to consolidate branches are based on the overall success of the branch and perhaps more so in mergers, the proximity to nearby locations that can serve customers. In this case, many of the consolidated locations had branches located within close proximity, making the consolidation a logical decision.”

Indiana and Michigan have seen a lot of banking industry consolidation, with the number of banks in the two states falling to 196 last year from 322 in 2008, she said.

“Horizon has a proven track record of successful integrations of community banks that are like-minded with similar cultures. We welcomed Salin to the Horizon family as our 14th merger since 2002,” Pressinell said.

“If our ability to serve our customers with the exceptional service they deserve is compromised with only two locations, we would add additional locations in the Fort Wayne area in the future.”

Horizon also has northeast Indiana branches in Auburn, Avilla, Columbia City, Garrett, Kendallville and Waterloo. Many of the customers living in these communities work in Fort Wayne, Pressinell said.

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