American Marine Bank's chief executive, Bess Alpaugh, who worked her way up from the lowest ranks, became the top dog in large part because American Marine cultivated talent from within. All of its senior officers started out at or near the bottom of the employee chart.

Mrs. Alpaugh says her bank has several strategies to boost morale and productivity:

*Promote from within when possible.

*Have all employees spend time as a teller.

*Draw a vice president each year to sit on the board of directors.

*Empower employees by soliciting the views of everyone.

*Encourage and assist employees in continuing their education.

"We really run on a team concept here," Ms. Alpaugh says. "Everybody has input, and I think the success we've had here really shows what happens when you motivate and empower people."

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