When Thomas C. Gregor, CEO of New Jersey's $1.3 billion-asset United National Bank since 1992, hears consultant jokes, he doesn't join in the laughter. He has found the advisers tremendously valuable in helping make his 25-branch organization a high performer.

Mr. Gregor singles out one consultant in particular-Robert E. Kafafian, executive vice president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Hopper Soliday & Co. - for his program of quarterly profitability performance reports. Mr. Kafafian follows up on those reports by meeting with top officers to discuss the results.

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