As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Peoples Bank, we look back at the bank’s history, its founders and its growth in our community. See the full list of stories here. Be sure to pick up a copy of our cookbook “Centennial Commemorative: Recipes & Remembrances” at your local branch office.
Established in 1912, Peoples Bank served the community from its original office in Catabwa, NC. The 1960s began its first period of expansion with the addition of consumer loans and lines of credit products. In 1962, the installment loan department was expanded. J. W. Abernethy, Jr. became president of the bank in 1963. The next year, in 1964, an office in Newton-Conover was opened. In 1965, the bank joined with a third-party data processor to manage the growing installment loan and demand deposit portfolios.
In 1980, after much debate, Congress, as part of a package of banking reforms, lifted the federal prohibition against paying interest on personal checking accounts, including accounts for partnerships and non-profits. In return for the extra cost of paying interest on checking, the banks were given a tool to compete with the Wall Street money market funds which had been chipping away at all bank checking account deposits. This regulatory change brought a big challenge, not only to Peoples Bank, but to all similarly situated banks because it threatened to dramatically increase the bank’s cost of doing business. The challenge was to retain the checking deposit portfolio without drastically reducing the bank’s income. Peoples Bank, like most of the nation’s banks, did, in fact, find ways to mitigate this revenue threat and strike a balance between preserving both customer deposits and the bank’s revenue.
David A. Hunsucker was elected President in 1977, serving until 1993. In 1982, the bank implemented an “online, real time” computer system. In 1985, the bank successfully offered 300,000 shares of common stock to raise funds to support growth. In 1986, acknowledging the business necessity to relocate the home office from its birth place in Catawba, a new headquarters was opened in Newton. The new location would place the bank in the geographic center of its customers and provide enhanced work spaces. Fifteen years later, the Newton headquarters was sold to the US Postal Service and the bank moved to even larger headquarters at its current location on West C Street in Newton. In 1988, the first office in Hickory was opened on Springs Road. Also in that year, an office in Alexander County, in the town of Hiddenite, was opened. In 1993, the bank’s first ATM was installed in Newton.
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