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Groundhog Day Breakfast hits its silver anniversary

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WHITE HALL – For First Exchange Bank, Groundhog Day is more than a dubious weather prediction from a fuzzy creature, it’s an anniversary.

Bill Goettel, president and CEO of First Exchange Bank, said it is coming up on the 25th anniversary of the bank’s arrival in Fairmont, a day that has always been celebrated with a Groundhog Day breakfast.

“We were just going to open our first branch in Fairmont and we wanted a way to introduce ourselves,” Goettel said. “We were opening in May of that year and we decided a Groundhog Day celebration would be in order. It was a way to introduce ourselves to Fairmont essentially.”

This year’s Groundhog Day Breakfast is on Friday, Jan. 31 at the Robert H. Mollohan Center, and is free for anyone who RSVPs. Goettel said he has been to every Groundhog Day Breakfast, and it has become a flagship event for the bank.

This year’s theme is “Where we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going,” according to Megan Michael, marketing coordinator for the bank. Goettel said the event will also continue the tradition of updating the public on the bank’s growth.

“It’s a big event for us,” Goettel said. “We also provide information about the bank at these events. It’s a networking opportunity for us and for others to get together.”

At the past few Groundhog Day breakfasts, Goettel and other officials from the bank broke news about the new White Hall location, and Goettel believes this year will be no different, because of the recent opening of the branch in October.

“What we’ll probably do is talk about our new location here in White Hall now that it’s open,” Goettel said. “We’ve grown very nicely in the last couple years.”

Officials and leaders of the bank moved into the White Hall branch as their new headquarters, and the location has become an innovative space for both staff members and customers.

“We took a step back and took a look at what’s out there in banking technology, what the banking culture is, what the market was like,” said Brent Skidmore, senior vice president of First Exchange Bank. “We have a strong focus on technology here.”

Skidmore also said that having everyone together at one branch helps improve communication.

“Having more people together under one roof has made communication a lot better, a lot quicker,” Skidmore said. “Decision-making, even though it was fast before, it’s even faster now.”

Jim Estep, president and CEO of the High Technology Foundation, will provide the keynote address. According to Michael, with the technological expansions of the new banking branch, his expertise in the field of technology will be a good fit for the breakfast.

“Customers are certainly reporting back to us how much they like it,” Michael said. “Our focus is really on technology here and implementing new technology, but we also continue to have a very strong focus on customer service.”

Goettel said he always looks forward to the Groundhog Day breakfast because it is an opportunity to meet with people in the community.

“Not too many events like this stand the test of time, but ours has been successful enough to confidently continue it for 25 years,” Goettel said. “We get 250, 300 people, mostly business people, together to look forward to what’s coming up in the year.”

To RSVP for the Groundhog Day Breakfast event, call the bank at (304) 534-7200.


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