For many people, “Bar Harbor” means Acadia National Park, a rock-bound coast, and lazy summer days.
For many business owners and professionals across Maine, however, “Bar Harbor” means business banking at its best, as in Bar Harbor Bank & Trust (BHBT).
“We are doing business banking statewide,” said Adam Robertson, a BHBT vice president for business development. “We’re known throughout Maine. People see our name on a construction site sign in southern Maine,” Robertson said. “They tell us, ‘I didn’t know you were in this area.’
“We are. We’re in Portland. We’re in Brunswick, Lewiston/Auburn, Augusta, and beyond. We have an office in downtown Bangor that allows us to easily serve the Bangor/Brewer area. With our business banking services, we are everywhere in Maine,” he stated. All of BHBT’s business banking officers have customers statewide and travel regularly while delivering creative financial solutions.
Bar Harbor Bank & Trust offers businesses and non-profits a full suite of products and services, from commercial loans and cash-management services (including remote deposit capture) to online banking. “We have the technology to assist our business customers in meeting all their banking needs, no matter where in Maine they are located,” Robertson said.
That technology extends to keeping in touch with customers, too.
Robertson, based in Bangor at BHBT’s Trust and Financial Services Office, works with customers in many places. While he’s happy to travel to visit a customer, face-to-face meetings are not always necessary. “With my laptop and a Blackberry I can quickly respond to customer needs even if I’m not right next door,” Robertson said.
Bar Harbor Bank & Trust has many business customers outside its traditional service area, he indicated. “We’re strong in the Bangor and Brunswick markets,” and the bank maintains a sizable customer base in the Greater Portland and Augusta areas, he said.
Even though BHBT doesn’t have any branches south of Rockland, the bank has developed an excellent customer base throughout Midcoast and southern Maine. Robertson said, “This is partially due to referrals from our customers, attorneys, CPAs, and other professionals with whom we’ve worked well over the past several years to develop relationships. We are grateful for this positive word-of-mouth as it has really helped us expand throughout the state.”
In the greater Bangor, Lewiston/Auburn, Augusta, and Portland markets, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust works with many business sectors, such as engineering firms, health-care agencies, nursing home and long-term care facilities, medical practices, real estate developers, manufacturing, industrial, auto, and recreational vehicle industries.
Expanding its business customer base into central and southern Maine has opened many commercial lending opportunities for Bar Harbor Bank & Trust. “After 2008, the lending environment got tough at some banks, but Bar Harbor Bank & Trust kept looking for good lending opportunities,” Robertson said. “This has become a win-win situation benefitting the bank and many companies looking for financing.”
Lending opportunities developed as other financial institutions established rigid lending requirements that often cut off credit for “perfectly good businesses,” he said. Some banks opted not to finance projects involving particular industries. The hospitality and fishing industries are two such examples, according to Robertson.
“We understand these industries because of our 125-year history on Mount Desert Island, where the hospitality industry employs hundreds of people each summer to serve the more than two million visitors who explore Acadia National Park and the rugged coast. The fishing industry is particularly strong on MDI, too,” he said.
“We have assisted many businesses during this challenging economic time,” Robertson said. “The perception is that no one is lending. But we have been [lending] all along, and we’ve helped businesses grow and expand.”
For business owners, a one-on-one relationship with a business banker is important, Robertson indicated. “One of the best parts of my job is getting to know my customers, sharing their dreams, and helping them achieve their goals,” he said.
“A lot of Maine companies want to keep a relationship with a Maine bank; we’ve always been Maine-based, and I think our customers appreciate that. We’re invested in Maine communities to help improve the economy and create jobs,” Robertson said. “The job spin-off can be quite large” with the commercial projects that Bar Harbor Bank & Trust helps finance. This helps keep Maine communities strong with employment opportunities for its residents.
Among the projects BHBT has financed are commercial real estate development, health care-related activity, and hotel/motel development. Robertson recently helped arranged financing for a hospitality-sector project in Piscataquis County.
“There are some good agri-based businesses that are doing well,” including specific potato growers, woods operators, commercial fisheries, and businesses affiliated with the low-bush blueberry industry, he said.
The bank has financed “different types of housing, condominium development or retirement communities. There’s some of that going on in Maine, from Bangor south,” Robertson noted. “We also like to finance construction, forestry equipment, and documented vessels where opportunities present themselves.
“Geographically we’re ready to do commercial lending from the top of Maine to the bottom of Maine and from the New Hampshire border to the Canadian border,” he said.