-Most of the post below about the Commerce/West Pointe business deal was written late Friday afternoon when I had all day to stew about the potential negative ramifications of it...and about 5 minutes before Terry Schaefer called me to talk about it. He said much to ease my mind.
Mr. Schaefer asures me that this deal will be in the best interest of everyone involved, including our Belleville area business community as a whole. And that's really all I needed to hear. Negotiations between the Commerce execs and West Pointe's toppers have been going on for the last 5 to 6 months. Nothing that would be perceived as a negative by West Pointe's current customer and employee base was left unadressed or unsatisfied in Terry's mind prior to agreement on this deal.
I'm sure I'll hear more details when we are able to talk some more, but Terry made it clear to me that Commerce Bancshares Inc. views this deal more as a starting point for further expansion into southern Illinois, as opposed to a bank acquisition in an effort to eliminate competition or add market share. The West Pointe operation at 5701 West Main is expected to serve as the headquarters for it's southern Illinois ops. That would mean the people currently employed would be more likely to be kept on to administer the expansion of Commerce's business into other cities and markets everwhere south of Springfield.
I'm sure many will still question whether or not the type of service that West Pointe customers have become accustomed to will still be there. Terry assures me that the people he's been dealing with are like-minded and will make it clear that it will.
As to the advertising and marketing that I've been helping out with, well that's something that will have to be adressed. But, I'm confident that I'll be given every chance to continue doing business with Commerce at some level.
For now, says Terry Schaefer, it's business as usual at West Pointe before the deal, and for the forseeable future after it closes.