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CRENSHAW : New Founders Bank Branches Operating

COMMUNITY NEWS: SOUTHWEST

September 26, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

Founders National Bank has opened two new branches, bringing to fruition a deal it made last January when it bought two sites from Bank of America that were to be closed.

The branches, at Crenshaw Boulevard and Stocker Street and at Western Avenue and 43rd Street, bring the number of Founders branches to five. The other branches are in the Crenshaw district on King Boulevard, in Compton and Gardena.

The banks are equipped with automated teller machines, and will have a 24-hour customer service phone number by Friday that will provide information such as balances and transactions, said Jenkins.

Founders purchased the two branches from Bank of America in a deal that included the acquisition of $16 million in deposits and $2 million in loan assets from customers at the Crenshaw-Stocker branch. Founders acquired only the building at 43rd Street and Western Avenue. With refurbishing done, Founders President Carlton Jenkins said, the branch only needs customers.

The branch has been open for more than two weeks, he said, but has few new accounts.

"We're really working to get the word out about the 43rd and Western branch, particularly since there's a crunch at the Stocker location," he said. "Customers have been pretty patient during the transition there, but it would help tremendously if folks started utilizing the new branch."

Crenshaw-based Founders has enjoyed a flurry of private-industry attention since last year's riots. Most recently, the Automobile Club of Southern California announced it was investing a total of $1.5 million in Founders and Broadway Federal Savings & Loan, another black-owned institution based in the Crenshaw district. Arco is providing $500,000 to Founders as part of the oil company's matching-funds program. The investments boost Founders' loan capability to about $40 million and put the bank's total assets at about $95 million.

Jenkins said that though he looks forward to more expansion, the most critical issue is maintaining a rapport with communities that have traditionally been short-changed when it comes to banking services.

"One of the first things we did at our new branches was take down the bulletproof windows," he said. "It sends the wrong message. Doing business here is the same as doing it anywhere else. You treat customers with respect."

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