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Bank on Buffalo opens in Orchard Park as it expands brand

Workers installed Bank on Buffalo's sign above the entrance to its Orchard Park branch Wednesday, as the location prepared to open for business Thursday.

Inside, the branch's employees prepared for a longer-term task: attracting customers to a brand that is new to the neighborhood.

Bank on Buffalo opened its headquarters branch in the Electric Tower last February. Now, the division of Pennsylvania-based CNB Bank is spreading its wings, with its new branch at 3049 Orchard Park Road in Orchard Park and another that will open Nov. 16 at 5190 Sheridan Drive in Amherst.

Beyond its downtown presence, Bank of Buffalo has sought to build name recognition with advertising, including TV ads. While Bank on Buffalo picked a high-traffic spot — a former First Niagara Bank branch nestled between Orchard Park Road and Union Road — it is as much about personnel as the real estate, said the bank's president, Martin T. Griffith.

Kathy Barry Kane managed that same location for about 17 years under the HSBC and First Niagara banners. Now she oversees the branch as vice president and regional retail market manager for Bank on Buffalo. Griffith said that Kane "managed the market" during her long tenure in Orchard Park, beyond just heading a branch.

"Once we knew that we had the right person, who had sphere of influence in her community, who's been here serving the community, then you dive into the numbers piece of it, to make sure that the demographics work, the deposit base makes sense, and all that," Griffith said.

Workers install a sign at Bank on Buffalo's Orchard Park branch. (Matt Glynn/Buffalo News)

Kane is working on renewing those customer relationships, and has already heard from some former clients. "They like to bank with people, too," she said. "I've gotten a lot of phone calls saying, 'As soon as you're open, I'm coming in.'"

Griffith said Bank on Buffalo's new home in Orchard Park was a high-volume location for First Niagara, as measured by deposits.

"The numbers more than supported [the bank] coming this way. You put that together with the talent, and you have it." Kane recalled when the branch, under its old format, had three teller windows devoted to commercial customers, "and there would be lines."

Bank on Buffalo didn't acquire the deposits connected to the former First Niagara branch. But Griffith said he sees value in moving into space that customers were used to visiting for banking, in a busy retail corridor. "Even though we didn't buy the deposits, we think that we're going to be very successful in pulling some of those deposits back."

The building opened in 1967. Bank on Buffalo overhauled the branch, creating a more open format. The teller lines are gone, replaced by kiosks where employees and customers can conduct transactions. The cubicles were replaced with offices where customers and employees can meet. There's a photo mural on a wall featuring Orchard Park's Green Lake.

Interior view of Bank on Buffalo's Orchard Park branch. (Matt Glynn/Buffalo News)

The transformation was striking to Kane. "It's beautiful in here," she said. "It's such a casual feeling, welcoming and warm."

Bank on Buffalo is taking some other steps to try to build name recognition. It was preparing to host as many as 200 guests at a reception planned for Wednesday night. The bank plans to hold a ribbon cutting on Thursday with the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce, local dignitaries and the property's landlord, who will fly in from Arizona.

Bank on Buffalo poured about $1 million into its new Orchard Park and Amherst locations. They will give the bank a chance to ramp up its retail deposits, in a new-style setting, Griffith said.

"From a locational standpoint, and from a market standpoint, these are more traditional markets than the downtown branch," he said. "But we're delivering the goods in an untraditional manner."

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