Banking & Finance, Economic Development, and Human Resources

West Michigan native comes home to open new bank

May 13, 2016
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A Missouri-based bank expanding into downtown Grand Rapids should make an immediate impact in the region — and perhaps no one knows that better than Michael Hollander.

Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Hollander graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in business education before obtaining his master’s degree from Grand Valley State University.

He worked in Grand Rapids for the first 10 years of his 15-year career with Fifth Third Bank. In coming home, he’s bringing a 150-year-old commercial bank with him.

Hollander has been tapped to lead Commerce Bank’s expansion into Grand Rapids, which was announced earlier this month. His familiarity with West Michigan makes him a perfect fit to head up the new venture, and Hollander believes West Michigan should be a perfect fit for Commerce Bank.

“When Commerce looks at expansion, it takes several factors into consideration,” said Hollander, who will serve as the Michigan market leader. “And one of the most important for us was the like-minded business community and strong cultural fit that Grand Rapids has with our organization.”

Hollander cited the importance Commerce places on long-term views and building strong business relationships as some of the key similarities the company shares with the region.

But one of West Michigan’s most prized business values also is one that could provide some challenges for Commerce Bank’s expansion into the market: loyalty.

Getting customers to switch banks can be difficult, especially when those relationships have been established for many years, but Hollander is confident Commerce Bank’s history of providing consistent services and stability across the Midwest lays a foundation for the bank to be successful in West Michigan.

“We’re in a highly competitive industry, so you’ve got to bring a unique and compelling value to a new market, and we deliver this through our super community banking service model, in which we offer outstanding personalized service and have consistent dependability for our customers.

“We’ve successfully done that in a number of other markets where we’ve built up with a long-term view in mind, and those tenets guiding us have helped us be successful — but more importantly is that it’s served our clients in those marketplaces even better.”

Commerce boasts experience with a number of industries in West Michigan — namely, the health care, manufacturing, agribusiness, aviation finance and beverage distribution industries.

With the ever-expanding Medical Mile, Commerce Bank has put a focus on serving Grand Rapids’ health care industry at the forefront. Hollander will be joined in the West Michigan office by Mike Pratt, a 20-year veteran of the industry who will lead the health care effort.

Hollander noted Commerce Bank’s Health Services Financing program, designed to act as a complement or alternative to traditional health care billing services, as one of the services that will be brought to the region.

Currently, there are no plans for Commerce Bank to include retail banking in Grand Rapids, but Hollander said the bank will closely monitor the market response in the area to determine the future of its presence in the region.

“We’re going to put the people, the customers and the community at the center of what we do, and let their demand and their needs drive what we do in the marketplace.”

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