On that August afternoon, the flood waters in Benton, PA kept rising and Tina, the First Columbia Bank & Trust Branch Manager, watched as they pushed against the exterior glass door on the North side of the building. At about three feet high, the pressure was too strong and the water began seeping in along the threshold. Slowly at first, then in a steady stream. It filled the lobby and rose several inches. Everyone got out and got home safely, but the damage to the floor and some furniture and fixtures had been done. A few days later, we got the call.

Lance Diehl, the CEO of First Columbia, explained the situation. Realizing that some level of updating was necessary to fix the flood damage, he asked us to come look at the Benton Branch to see if the Strategic Brand Experience we had designed for their Main Office Branch in Bloomsburg could be adapted to this location. He wanted to turn a problem into an opportunity and keep brand consistency. But there was a catch—Benton is one of their busiest branches so it had to remain open the entire time.

We worked tirelessly to quickly adapt the design to the new location and, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, the branch was completely transformed having stayed open for business throughout construction. The process was smooth, but not just because we had a great client and because Andrea Giglio was managing it masterfully for DxDempsey, but also because we were very fortunate that Generations Construction got the project. The owner, Jim Spangenberg, was a professional from the start—he was true to his word, ran a tight ship, did great work and delivered on time and on budget. He was a pleasure to work with and helped us figure out phasing so that the branch could stay open. He followed the drawings, asked smart questions and offered thoughtful suggestions throughout.

As the construction finished up, the mural of Benton that was commissioned to a local illustrator was underway and we began working with our trusted vendor, Brand Graphic Solutions, on the implementation of the graphics and signage we had designed to “make the walls talk” and tell the First Columbia Bank & Trust story. The brand messaging was the icing on the cake. And who really wants to eat a cake without the icing? Not only does it effect the experience of eating the cake, but without icing to tell you what the occasion is, who is being celebrated and other important details, the cake can be boring, bland and very uninformative! Once the mural and graphics were installed, the space told a story about First Columbia and about Benton. And to ensure that the story stays intact, we installed a flood door where the waters entered the space to help prevent future flooding.

So many things came together to make this happen so seamlessly, but relationships played a huge part. There was a mutual respect between all parties–the client, architect, contractor and vendors. We were all united in our desire for the project to be a success. At the end of the day, a flood that could have drowned spirits became the impetus for an uplifting branch transformation that enhances the customer experience and helps drive Return on Design Investment.

Welcome to your Benton Branch!