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August 26, 2020

With two branches on tap, Dime Bank CEO looking to make a splash in Greater Hartford market

Photo | Dime Bank Dime Bank CEO Nick Caplanson.

Oftentimes when a community bank expands into a new geographic area, it starts with one branch. Nick Caplanson wants to go a bit bigger than that.

The CEO of Norwich’s Dime Bank said in an interview this week that he isn’t interested in merely dipping a toe in the waters of the Hartford market, where the $960-million asset bank has applications pending for two branches in Glastonbury and Manchester

“We’re saying to these communities, ‘we’re going swimming,’ ” Caplanson said of the play. “We’re that confident we’re going to make an impact and it’s going to be positive.”

Dime is planning to hire eight to 10 area residents to staff the branches, adding to the bank’s existing 165 workers, he said.

If approved, the two branches would open late this year or in early 2021, he said.

The branches would be the first new locations for Dime since it expanded to Colchester in 2016. Asked why the bank is moving into Hartford County rather than continuing to expand in its home market, where it has 10 branches and the fifth largest market share by deposits, Caplanson said part of it has to do with stagnant population growth.

“The population is not growing in our market, in Rhode Island or in Connecticut overall,” he said. “We have to look for spots with higher population concentration and these fit the bill.”

The other key factor in the decision to expand is that bank industry consolidation has taken a number of community banks off the board in the Hartford market.

In fact, the buildings Dime Bank intends to move into were previously branch locations for Farmington Bank and United Bank, and closed after People’s United Bank acquired both lenders.

Numerous community banks -- including Ion Bank, Collinsville Bank, Thomaston Savings Bank and Windsor Federal Savings --  have opened new branches in the area, seeking to siphon off customers from the acquired banks.

Moving into former branches that were closed down by one of the state’s largest banks is not a competitive statement, Caplanson said.

The two locations --  1009 Hebron Ave. in Glastonbury and 299 Middle Turnpike West in Manchester -- were simply attractively priced, already set up as branches, and met Dime’s various other site selection requirements.

However, Caplanson certainly plans for his bank to be competitive with existing players here, including for commercial banking business, which is a specialty at Dime.

“Our expectation is not to walk in there and be the market leaders, but we’re going to service a niche in the market that is really looking for personalized service and a local touch,” he said.

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