Some aesthetics have changed, but the building is the same since Vicki O’Dell started to work at Cove State Bank in 1984 as a part-time teller.
O’Dell, who grew up in Copperas Cove, remembers the road to her home being nothing but dirt and dust, but eventually the road was paved. Cove State Bank is similar. It became National Banks of Central Texas in 1990.
“I wasn’t expecting for it to be a career,” O’Dell said about starting at the bank, “but the bank has helped me grow. The bank has been good to me.”
National Banks of Central Texas started its 125-year celebration this month at its Copperas Cove branch offices. The Gatesville-based financial institution holds many of the same traditions as the former Cove State Bank to include being a local operation and caring for the community and its clients.
“I don’t remember us losing any clients,” said O’Dell, who has gone from her teller position to National Bank’s operations officer and vice president. “My most vivid memory was one client coming in and asking about the bank closing because they heard rumors.”
O’Dell hadn’t heard anything of the sort, and then it happened, she said.
Cove State Bank fell to the FDIC along with 1,000 banks during that year, said Jimmy Carmichael, National Banks’ market president. The ability for National Banks to purchase the operation at that time is a “true test” of their fiscal responsibility, he said.
The transition was smooth and several people got to keep their jobs, because National Banks cared about the employees and the client base, O’Dell said.
Clients such as Anne Marie Woodridge, a longtime resident of Copperas Cove, has banked at the operation since 1974 and didn’t notice a change, she said.
“I have been banking at National, when they bought this bank in Copperas Cove,” said Jimmy Clark, a Cove resident and local builder and developer. “National Banks has been instrumental to the growth of Copperas Cove.”
Because of their ability to offer loans to local businesses, many have had opportunities they normally wouldn’t, he said.
“They are making Copperas Cove a better place to live,” Clark said.
Banking in today’s market is all about customer service, said Helen Barr, branch operation officer. The products aren’t too different from bank to bank, but where National Banks has stood out over the years is its customer services, she said.
“People have confidence in us,” she said. “They know the building; they know the staff. We’ve had clients for 30-plus years.”
Many of those clients have visited the same tellers and managers for years, Barr said.
To celebrate 125 years in operation and 24 years in Copperas Cove, last week National Banks hosted three days of events featuring the operations of past, present and future.
Other branches will celebrate 125 years each month until August.
On Monday, the branch will meet with its oldest members. On Tuesday, customers can guess the amount of money in a jar, and on Wednesday, there will be a barbecue and display of old banking equipment and notes.
The community is invited to bring any of their old banking material, such as notes that say Cove State Bank.
Celebrating next week is about giving back to the customers who have supported the bank, said Kenn Poston, National Bank executive vice president and chief operations officer.
“We couldn’t get here without them,” he said.