BB&T closes 2 branches

Published 11:31 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Ivor branch of BB&T will shut its doors today and the Holland branch is soon to follow on Nov. 21.

The closings will leave each town without a bank.

Hampton Roads Regional President Bob Boyd explained that Ivor and Holland accounts, along with the employees who worked in the branches, will be transferred to other BB&Ts in Wakefield and downtown Suffolk.

Ivor customers will have to travel about 9 miles or 7 minutes to get to their BB&T branch while Holland customers will have to drive about 12 miles or 20 minutes.

“We decided — by asking clients and employees alike — that in order to give clients the best quality service, we would move the accounts to the Wakefield and (Suffolk) locations,” Boyd said.

Boyd added that these banks have longer hours and additional client services such as ATMs and will improve the bank’s ability to better serve its customers.

Despite the promised increased services, Holland residents such as Martha Weaver think the disadvantages of losing their local branch outweigh other possible considerations.

“We really hate to see it close,” Weaver said. “We went every couple of days and depended on it to get change and put cash in from our business.”

She noted the bank’s location in Holland made it much more convenient to the town’s residents, especially the elderly population, than other banks in downtown Suffolk.

“I really hate it for the older people who can’t manage the bad highway” into Suffolk, she said. “It will really be an inconvenience and will change the way we do things.” She suggested that residents may now go to the Franklin BB&T branch, rather than try to navigate the busy roads to the Suffolk bank.

According to Boyd, the decision was the outcome of an annual evaluation of how to give the bank’s clients the best possible service.

“We take our strategy on evaluating banks very seriously,” he said. “We don’t make light of how we evaluate the different locations for qualities such as the bank’s hours, safety for our employees, and accessibility for our clients.”

Boyd said after assessing the banks, BB&T decided clients would be better served by different locations. He added that the decision had nothing to do with current market conditions.

In Ivor, Mayor Keith Joyner said he was disappointed but not surprised by BB&T’s decision to close the local bank. He noted many residents had already moved their accounts to other banks in the area, suggesting BB&T was a bad fit for a town where people favor dealing with smaller, community banks.

“We are disappointed, but I won’t say that we were totally shocked” Joyner said. “I don’t think that it is a reflection on the town. I think that people here were looking for more of a community-type bank and so they took their business elsewhere.”

Joynor said the Ivor government will contact local, community-type banks in hopes of convincing them to open a branch in the town.