Rich Graver spent the last four months courting investors. By Nov. 15, he hopes to collect the $9.5 million pledged to finance a new bank that will stress customer service.The Victory Bank is expected to debut Dec. 1 at 548 North Lewis Road in Limerick.

Graver, the company's president and chief lending officer, helped recruit 275 mostly local investors.

After holding numerous positions at National Penn Bank over 25 years, the 1979 Boyertown Area Senior High School graduate resigned to fulfill the dream of building a bank from scratch.

"The concept of starting with a blank piece of paper was very challenging," Graver said.

Teaming with Joseph W. Major, the bank's principle organizer and prospective CEO, Graver began searching for potential investors. From July to September, the bankers explained their business model at 40 luncheons.

"I made a lot of phone calls," Graver said. "It was a lot of work. A bank is a good investment for some people."

Graver and Major have exceeded their goal of collecting $9 million, which was placed in escrow, to satisfy minimum state and federal capital requirements.

On Oct. 15, the company extended its stock offering period a month to collect. The minimum $10,000 contribution will be worth 1,000 shares. Graber said investments averaged between $26,000 and $27,000.

Utilizing conservative quarterly estimates, Graver expects the bank to break even by the middle of its third year.

However, he expects the Victory Bank to grow faster by making customer service a priority. Employees will be instructed to return all phone calls on the same business day.

Since five of the bank's six officers have invested in the enterprise, Graber says they have added incentives to make sure the bank succeeds.

Graver expects the bank to pen with 12 employees, all of which he says must show a similar determination.

"We want to hire the best employees we can," he said. "They've got to have the same values as the rest of us."

Contact reporter Bradley Schlegel at 610-367-6041, ext. 240 or bschlegel@berksmontnews.com.

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