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Bank on Buffalo taps local advisers to navigate Buffalo market

Bank on Buffalo is relying on six local businessmen to help the new bank navigate the Buffalo market.

The bank, a division of Pennsylvania-based CNB Financial Corp., created a board of advisers as part of its push to gain a foothold in the region. Bank on Buffalo is targeting small to middle market businesses, and will draw on the advisers' knowledge of the market.

"We all know a lot of the players in different industries, not only to offer some counsel and potentially good opportunities that might be available, but also to  look out for pitfalls that might not be so evident," said Michael Newman, owner and executive vice president of NOCO, who is one of the board members.

Bank on Buffalo is a dichotomy of sorts: a new bank run by local people, but part of a firmly established institution with $2.6 billion in assets. Joseph B. Bower Jr., CNB's president and CEO, and Martin T. Griffith, president of Bank on Buffalo, wanted to form an advisory board with members from different fields, including manufacturing, services and energy. With Buffalo being a relatively small market, Griffith already knew many of the appointees from his banking career.

Murak, who is also founder and principal of Murak & Associates and the founder, president and CEO of Precision Scientific Instruments, said he sees a niche for Bank of Buffalo in the market, after KeyBank acquired First Niagara.

"Folks are looking for more of that personal touch from their banking relationship," Murak said. "First Niagara used to be that and grew rapidly and now is no longer. So there's a void when that transpires, and I really believe that Bank on Buffalo is filling a very important void."

The other four businessmen on the board are: Cory R. Haqq, managing member of Urban Equity Management Group; Peter J. Romano Jr., president and CEO of United Materials; Stephen J. Schop, managing partner of Schop, Powell & Associates; and Mark Tronconi, partner at Tronconi, Segarra & Associates CPAs and consultants. The board positions are paid, but the bank did not disclose the amount they are receiving.

Bower said he and Griffith set out to create an advisory board with up to seven members, so the bank may yet name another member. They also expect the membership of the board to change over time. Bower, Griffith and three other CNB officials are on the board, as well. The board will meet monthly for now, but could eventually switch to quarterly meetings.

While all of the business members on the board are men, bank spokesman Robert Carr said Bank on Buffalo has talked to women as potential members, but didn't have the opportunity to announce a female member by the time of the first meeting. "They hope to announce one soon, so that is definitely in the works," Carr said.

CNB has advisory boards in two other markets, Erie, Pa., and Columbus, Ohio, where it also created divisions.

"The largest thing that I think differentiates Buffalo is, it's a very homegrown town," Bower said. "You don't drive down the street and see a whole lot of box stores. It's more of a mom-and-pop type of shop. You all support the individuals and open and start businesses here, more perhaps than any market that we're currently in."

Bank on Buffalo has one branch operating in the market, in downtown Buffalo, and plans to open two suburban locations, in Amherst and Orchard Park, in late August or early September.

Griffith said the bank will be setting up full-fledged branches, rather than just loan production offices like some competitors.

"We're fully committed to the marketplace and that's going to become even more and more evident when the full impact of our budget is felt by the community, up to and including involvement in community organizations and supporting community organizations," Griffith said.


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