With Dane County being the fastest growing county in Wisconsin, and Sun Prairie being one of the fastest growing communities in that county, it’s probably not surprising that Chase Bank chose Sun Prairie to build a branch at 620 Spring St. on the city’s far west side.
What might be surprising, though, is that Sun Prairie’s recently opened branch is the first that Chase Bank has constructed in Wisconsin in 30 years, according to Chad Welwood, who manages the branch.
“It’s our first new build in the state of Wisconsin in 30 years, so we’re super-excited to do that and we’ve not opened a new one in Wisconsin,” Welwood said. “We’ve opened them all over the country, but again, we saw the number of people that we serve here in Dane County with the limited number of physical branches and decided it was time to open one here. So, to be the first in 30 years is pretty cool.”
Welwood has been a branch manager for about eight years for Chase, managing four different branches — one in downtown Madison, one on the east side and one over on the west side. He left the west side branch in January to start planning the opening in Sun Prairie.
“I love it,” Welwood replied when asked about Sun Prairie. “I mean, it’s grown a lot. I personally live . . . about 15 minutes from here . . . so I do all my shopping over here at Target and Costco. I’m over here a lot and I play hockey here as well at the Ice Arena every Sunday. I love Sun Prairie. I know that our staff, we have three people that live right here.”
Although he’s been with Chase since 2009, Welwood also knows there is a limited amount that new businesses can do when opening today with COVID-19. Mindful of current guidelines, Chase increased coronavirus signage, added floor markings and glass partition windows to ensure social distancing, placed hand sanitizers around the branch, and enhanced its daily cleaning processes. Customers can also access walk-up options, enroll in online banking at Chase.com, and download the Chase mobile app to enjoy the convenience of digital banking.
But that’s not all that’s changed in banking.
“In the branch, we have, what’s called a digital access bar. We have the Chase wi-fi here --a secure wi-fi that you can get on — and all of us are certified here as digital experts. We know that app inside and out so we can help from six feet away,” Welwood said, referring to social distancing.
“We’re trying to make sure that we know that thing as good as we possibly can, so we don’t have to come that close . . . we’re trying to get people to be able to do things on their own without having to come to the branch for those simple transactions,” Welwood said.
“But we still do have the private offices. We know people still want that brick and mortar location, that presence when it comes to big life moments like saving for a house or for retirement and college planning,” Welwood added. “We’re still building branches, we’re just doing it differently and having self-service options as opposed to a big teller line like you’ve seen years ago.”
The more things change in banking, the more they stay the same. For example, Chase knows it has already serves 128,300 consumer customers and 7,700 businesses in Dane County. The bank hired locally for personal bankers, associate bankers, private client specialists and advisors, and home lending and business banking specialists.
Welwood also said the new branch wants to become involved in the community. “We’re limited with COVID to the things that we can get involved with right now, but when things start to open up and taking our staff out here and being able to volunteer in the community, those are things that we’re looking to get involved with,” Welwood said.
Standing on the corner where Chase is located near Menards and The Springs of Sun Prairie apartments, there are several other financials — some almost within a stone’s throw. Why should new customers choose Chase?
“Good question — there’s a lot of choices. If you look up and down the street here, you can probably see five or six different banks from where I’m sitting,” Welwood replied. “Our approach to it is we want to be an advice center. We have put a lot of effort into scaling up our bankers, making sure they’re educated on home equity loans to mortgage to retirement planning and business banking.
“We put a lot of time and effort into the training for our bankers. So, you’re right — you can choose any number of banks, but our goal is to be the first one that you think of because you’ve got that trusted banker,” Welwood added. “Our outreach is first and foremost, to our existing clients . . . that live in this area so that they know we’re open and we’d love to have them come in and see the branch and build that relationship and let them know that we’re here to help them with any need that they may have.
“Chase has a lot to offer and we want to be that trusted advisor,” Welwood said. “And that’s our approach.”