Long-time banker retires after 41 years

news_max500Max Egger, long-time Bank of America manager, will retire from the banking industry on May 3. Egger, 64, has served in various positions with the bank for 41 years, most recently as Manager at the Chewelah branch since 2008. His final weeks will be spent at the Colville branch assisting with a management transition there.

Janet Koeppen will be the new manager at Colville. Koeppen has ten years of banking experience and has spent the last two years as a Personal Banker at Colville.

Shellie Baydo will replace Egger in Chewelah. Baydo comes to the branch with over 30 years of experience with Bank of America.

An open house retirement party will be held for Egger on Saturday, April 27, 2-4 p.m., at the Chewelah Bank of America branch, 108 N. Park St. Everyone is invited to come visit and wish him well in the next stage of his life.

Egger started his career with the bank as a trainee in Deer Park on Feb. 7, 1972 after graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Business Administration. He was born and raised in Spokane and graduated from Rogers High School.

In 1973, Egger was moved to Colville for additional training and served as Assistant Operations Manager there. He moved to Oroville in 1974 to take the position of Operations Manager. In those early years of his career the bank operated as National Bank of Commerce. The bank changed names to Rainier National Bank in 1974.

Egger recalled the only robbery he witnessed occurred at the Oroville bank in 1975. In that case, he remembered that a man wearing a nylon sock and stocking cap over his head entered the building shortly after opening and approached one of the tellers. The robber handed the teller a note demanding money and left with the cash in less than three minutes. Nobody was injured in the incident and he could not recall if the man was ever caught.

In 1977, Egger returned to Colville as Operations Manager and then Commercial Loan Officer in 1982. He remembers his time as loan officer as being one of the most pleasurable periods in his career.

“I met and worked with many wonderful farmers and ranchers in an area covering Deer Park to Republic and Moses Lake to Colville. I spent a lot of time travelling and visiting with my customers,” he recalled of his days servicing his clients’ financing needs.

Egger was moved to Deer Park as Manager in 1990, returned to Colville as Manager in 1995, and finally led the Chewelah branch as Manager starting in 2008.

Through a series of acquisitions and mergers the bank also operated as Security Pacific Bank and Seafirst Bank before becoming Bank of America around 2000, according to Egger.

Even with the changes he has witnessed in the industry over the last 40 years, Egger insists that the job of banker is still very much about delivering great customer service.

“With all the changes and centralizing of decisions we are still in a people business. I have always strived to get to know my customers. Our customers still need a local banker to be an advocate and take care of their business. In that way, it’s the same now as it was 40 years ago when I started,” he explained.

But Egger admits that the way the local branches operate and the way banks interact with customers has changed dramatically over the years.

“There were no computers when I started. We processed every check and deposit on a bookkeeper machine and manually posted every transaction to the customers account on paper,” he said describing the earlier systems.

With advancements in automation, the number of people required to handle those tasks has also changed considerably.

“At one point there was probably 15 employees at the Chewelah branch and 20 (employees) at Colville. Among the many tasks, the interest on CD’s, savings accounts, and loans all had to be calculated and entered manually. Now we have six employees at Chewelah and nine in Colville,” Egger explained.

Automated teller machines and online banking options have also changed the banking experience.

“Younger people don’t want to wait in lobbies when their banking can be done online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Deposits can even be made using their smart phones. Fewer and fewer people want to handle transactions in-person,” he said of the evolving attitude toward banking. “The technology has been developed for the convenience of customers. A certain number of people prefer to do business from their office or home.”

Egger believes that, despite the changing marketplace, local bankers will continue to be a valuable part of peoples’ lives.

“Local deposits have grown and the recent financial crisis has brought home the fact that people want to know their bankers and who they are doing business with,” he stated.

Outside of his duties at the bank, Egger has a distinguished record of public service.

He currently serves on the Loan Committee for Tri-County Economic Development District (TEDD) as he has for the last 15 years; served as the Disaster Relief Chairman (1977-87) for the Stevens County Chapter of the American Red Cross, helping victims of fire with food, shelter, and clothing; served as Exalted Ruler (1981-82) for the Colville Elks Lodge; served as President (1987-88) of the Colville Kiwanis Club; and chaired the committee to kick off the Stevens County Relay for Life in 1995, continuing to serve on the committee for nine years.

Egger says that he will miss the people he has worked with when he retires next month.

“I have enjoyed every day working with our customers. I have been blessed to meet many fine and extraordinary people including the employees at Chewelah and Colville. I have fond memories of working in Chewelah. It is an outstanding, friendly community,” he said of his relationship with his customers and employees.

“I have truly enjoyed all 41 years at the bank. There was not one morning when I didn’t enjoy getting in the car and heading off to work. I will miss my customers and bank associates,” he added.

In retirement, Egger hopes to spend more time visiting his children and grandchildren. He has one son, Greg, in Bellingham and two daughters, Marcy in Oregon and Christy in Spokane. His grandchildren are in Mississippi. He has been married 40 years to his wife, Deborah.

By Jared Arnold, The Independent Staff