From young children to grown adults, Wes and Emily Kochheiser have individually been linked to First Federal Community Bank. Now, as business owners of Fitness Warehouse and husband and wife, they’ve remained loyal to a bank that’s been loyal to them.
On a business level, Wes and Emily have been banking with First Federal since 2013. They were making additions to their gym, plus training and adding gym workers and staff at the same time.
With so many things going on at once, they needed to plan out their endgame.
One thing they were looking for in terms of qualifying a bank as “good” was upfront funding and being able to “start from the ground up.”
“(Fitness Warehouse) has been family owned and operated, and having a bank that's willing to look at a plan and help it come together—that's how (First Federal) has made a huge impact with us,” Wes said. “And being punctual in this business is very necessary. You have to be on time. Our equipment deals, dealing with our patrons, both with using auto-draft systems and other situations that may come up.”
As lifelong bankers with First Federal for 25 years, Wes and Emily didn’t have much to think about in terms of pursuing a business account with them.
“Having that personal effect that First Federal embraced throughout all their ranks goes a long way,” Wes said.
Wes and Emily worked with Donna Conley, vice president of commercial banking, who made a huge impact on a commercial level for them to the point where they’ve never felt like it’s a business deal. The support and genuine vibe they’ve experienced makes them feel confident moving forward with their business, and also with transactions with the business, knowing that First Federal is there to help.
Conley doesn’t refer to anyone as her customer or client. Once she’s able to build a relationship and establish trust, then she openly accepts that person into her “banking family.”
“I have a passion for my customer, so when I take on customers, I always tell them I'm a relationship banker,” Conley said. “I’m not about the transaction, I’m not about the quick in and quick out. When I take you on as my customer, I want that relationship, I want something that we can build on, I want them to feel comfortable enough with me that if they have questions, they don't feel bad about calling me.”
Conley first asked Emily and Wes what their goals were and what they wanted to achieve. Wes and Emily originally had six small loans they took out, and making those individual payments became too hectic and stressful as new business owners and as a young couple. And although they could make their payments, they had little left over to do anything else.
“I understand that life happens, and I want to make sure that when life does happen, you can still live,” Conley said. “I didn't want to make their cash flow so tight that it was virtually impossible.”
After working with Conley, they developed a plan to streamline the gym and turn all six of their small loans into one working loan. Since making that change, it’s freed up Wes and Emily’s time where they can add new members, do the training that they want to do and put their business into full motion.
“Donna Conley has made a huge impact on us on the commercial level,” Wes said. “She's been the glue in a lot of places, and she stretched and went above and beyond what we would ever expect from a bank.”
“Honestly, (First Federal) are like family to us,” Emily said. “I mean they're always reaching out and making sure everything's good all the time, so it's just nice to feel like they want to be a part of (Fitness Warehouse) and they want to continue to see you striving to get better and keep growing.”
When Wes and Emily walk into First Federal, they know they’ll be treated with familiarity, just like anyone else who walks through those doors.
“They invest in who you are and not so much the paperwork,” Wes said. “And if paperwork is a problem, they've reached out and helped us get in position to where it was achievable, so they don't just turn you away. They want to work with you as a person.”