Miami's Chase Federal Bank wasn't the only financial institution that opened its branches for business on Monday, Columbus Day. It just acted like it was.

The $2.8 billion-asset thrift last week launched a print and radio blitz trumpeting that it would be open for business on a day when the vast majority of banks and thrifts were closed.

"We treated it as a sales day, not only a service day," said Frank J. Barbato, senior vice president at the 30-branch institution. "The whole idea was that it was an opportunity to drum up new business. We believe Chase Federal is the only bank in Florida to be open for normal bankinghours on Columbus Day."

Though no figures were available on how much business Chase got, Mr. Barbato said, "it was a good traffic day. We got lots of new accounts and new home equity loans on the books."

The thrift reasoned that schools were open in south Florida, and that parents with the day off from work were unencumbered. Therefore, they might decide that it was a good day to spend time applying for a loan or shopping for a deposit account.


Two hundred eighty-eight employees of Second National Bank, Youngstown, Ohio, won a day off work with pay in a new program to spur customer service.

The bank last year adopted an employee recognition program to reward positive attitudes and willingness to go that extra step for customers and other staffers.

Employees nominate their co-workers for "Tortoise Shell Awards" for exceptional efforts that they witness. Among the perks: a day off, a special recognition gala, and free rooms at a Cleveland hotel.

The program's motto: "Behold the turtle, he makes no progress unless he sticks out his neck." Officials brought a pet turtle to the bank's lobbies to inspire staff.


Advantage Bank is checking into its new operations center, leased from a Holiday Inn in the bank's hometown of Kenosha, Wis.

Holiday Inn is renovating one of its hotels in the town, converting it to a Holiday Inn Express. Advantage Bank will lease the extra space at the site and house its loan servicing and processing, deposit servicing, and customer service groups in the building.

Advantage officials, who could not be reached for comment, said in a statement that the space was required because the thrift has grown 40% in the last year. No word on whether there will be room service.

- Terrence O'Hara, Barbara F. Bronstien

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