RAWLINS – One hundred twenty years ago, when the small municipality of Rawlins was a bustling transportation corridor along the great Transcontinental Railroad, community banking was a tad more old fashioned.
Ledgers were hand written. Balances were accounted for without calculators. Loans were approved primarily on reputation and character alone.
For Rawlins National Bank, a local financial institution which first opened on Jan. 3, 1899 on the corner of Fifth and Front Streets, not only did it serve its clients under the charming but primitive methods of the Old West, it also bore a different name: Rawlins State Bank.
Starting on July 1, Rawlins National Bank will officially revert to this historical advent by dropping its national charter. And its name will accordingly be rendered to “RNB State Bank.”
Yesterday afternoon, Mayor Steve Nicholson visited Rawlins National Bank to honor the financial institution.
“I, Steven S. Nicholson, Mayor of Rawlins, do hereby proclaim that on May 22, 2019, RNB State Bank’s origin, history, and commitment of community involvement and participation is unsurpassed over the past 120 years,” Nicholson said.
According to Scott Thayer, an RNB market president, the decision to change the name has come in light of national political climate.
Thayer said that being RNB, which accounts for more than $100 million in loans, hasn’t been chartered by the state of Wyoming for the past 119 years, they’ve had to adhere to federal regulation. This means they’re required to pay assessments on examination dues to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Such rates, said Thayer, led the RNB board to question the current financial direction of the bank.
“Fees are getting prohibitive,” Thayer said of OCC assessment rates.
There’s another perk, however.
With “National” dropped from its title, financial oversight for RNB State Bank will conform favorably to a more localized, Cowboy State level, creating better opportunities for the area’s core industries – oil, wind, corrections, among others – to be more in tune with the status of economic efficiency and feasibility.
“Cheyenne knows a lot better of what’s going on in Carbon County than Washington D.C. does,” Thayer said.
And RNB isn’t the only place jumping on the bandwagon. In recent memory, three other Wyoming banks have reestablished themselves as state-chartered institutions.
First National Bank in Laramie became “ANB Bank.” Wyoming National Bank in Riverton became “Wyoming Community Bank.” Rock Springs National Bank became “RSNB Bank.”
Apart from the name change, however, RNB State Bank, a company that employs almost 50 people amongst four county branches as well sister branch Front Range State Bank, Longmont, Colo., and an Local Purchase Order (LPO) office in Lakewood, Colo., everything else will remain intact.
“Your community banks still represent that; we’re still there,” Thayer said. “We’re not those other institutions where you’re nameless, faceless. They can walk in, whether it’s some of my old teachers – well, they’re not old, I’m old – or people I went to school with.”
Some clients, said Thayer, a 1983 graduate of Rawlins High School, have been banking with RNB since the 1940s and ‘50s. And they’re still around today.
Looking on to July 1 in noticeable excitement, Thayer was asked what the future looks like for the bank and their loyal customers.
“Very bright,” Thayer said. “We’ve been local and independent for 120 years, and that’s going to continue. It just brings it all home for me, you know? This is my home town.”