In the mergers and acquisitions frenzy of the 1990s, hometown banks became nearly obsolete. In Northern Illinois, Rosemont-based Wintrust holding company stepped in to fill the void, bringing back community banks and providing friendly, accessible customer service with products and services that are found at national banks.
When Wintrust made plans for a Barrington Bank—its fifth charter—the firm tapped Glenview native Brad Stetson as its first executive vice president. Stetson was working with Jim Bishop at First Chicago/NBD. A call came in August 1996 for an opportunity for both men to start the new Barrington Bank. Prior to working for Wintrust, Stetson had 17 years in the banking business in Chicago.
“Jim came to me and asked about the chance to start a new bank, a new business, in Barrington,” Stetson said. “It took about 30 seconds for me to say yes.” It was clear that he’d be walking the walk—that he’d be growing the bank business in Barrington while helping to grow other businesses, a parallel process. He would be able to relate to his customers. “I really enjoy working with others to help them grow and expand their companies—it’s rewarding and I’m proud of that,” he said.
Stetson and Bishop worked long days, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the first six months. On top of that, he was driving from Glenview to work. The bank opened in the fall of 1996, and by July 1997, the Stetsons moved to Barrington. “Our oldest son was in 7th grade, and we wanted him to have time in 8th grade to make friends, before high school,” Stetson said. Two of the three adult Stetson children—Brett, Drew, and Liz—live in Barrington. There are seven grandchildren, all boys, and there’s one granddaughter on the way. It was important for Stetson to move to his family to Barrington. “You can’t be a community banker and not live in the community,” he said. “We’ve been here for 25 years and it is our home.”
Stetson likes to joke that he and wife Judy have been married for 60 years. The two met when he moved across the street from her family in Glenview as a young child. “Our parents knew we’d be a part of each other’s lives since kindergarten,” he said. “Judy and I have always supported each other. She’s an incredible friend and confidant, mother, and grandmother. She has been active in the community with Impact 100, United Way, Smart Farm, and soon with Harper’s HOPE Giving Circle,” Stetson said. “She helps to remind me to take a step back and enjoy life and all that’s around us.”
In the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, BB&T played a critical role for local businesses, and in turn, for the owners and employees’ families. BB&T employees issued just over 1,100 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, in an amount of $208 million dollars. The demand for loans was intense in a short amount of time. For smaller businesses, 250,000+ loans were made to companies with revenue of less than $250,000 per year. Bank staff worked long hours to demystify a complex application process that was changing daily. This service saved many businesses from bankruptcy.
Annually, over the past five years, BB&T has donated to and sponsored local events and charities in the amount of nearly $350,000. Bank employees register nearly 1,000 service hours each year through volunteering, financial education and literacy, board positions, committees, and local focus groups. Stetson is a past chairman of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce, JourneyCare, and Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Governing Council. He is a permanent member of the Board for Harper College’s Educational Foundation.
Since starting at BB&T as an executive vice president in 1996, Stetson has been progressively promoted to president (1999), president and CEO (2002) and to chairman and CEO in 2004. As chairman, Stetson wears a lot of hats. He is the Community Reinvestment Officer (CRA), a legal responsibility with required levels of investment in the community. But mostly, he says, it’s his customer’s success that defines the bank’s success. Stetson is proud of his employees and customers. “What astounds me about Barrington is the generosity of its people. I’m so impressed with this incredible group of people in our town.”
In the mergers and acquisitions frenzy of the 1990s,
hometown banks became nearly obsolete. In Northern Illinois, Rosemont-based Wintrust holding company stepped in to fill the void, bringing back community banks and providing friendly, accessible customer service with products and services that are found at national banks.
“Wickstrom Auto Group has banked with BB&T since they opened their doors 25 years ago. They’ve played a large role in helping us grow our business from one brand to six. BB&T is a community bank with all of the resources our business has needed. They are more than just a bank to us, they are our friends.”
– Richard and Colin Wickstrom
“To Barrington Bank & Trust, being involved in the community isn’t just a phrase. “Community Involvement” is a mindset that permeates throughout their leadership and employee culture. They nurture staff at all levels to engage in the things they care about in our community. As a Chamber partner, their enthusiasm for volunteering, guiding, and sharing their expertise makes them a partner we can count on. Small business has been pushed to the brink of destruction during this era of COVID. BB&T responded in high gear. Their accessibility and outreach during the complicated web of funding and grants was instrumental in helping many survive.”
– Suzanne Corr
“Working with Burke and Char and the entire BB&T team the last 10+ years has been a pleasure. They are always available to guide me through a Home Equity Line of Credit, Business Loan and especially the complicated PPP process. They are true professionals and I appreciate all their help over the years.”
– Patty Jacobsen
“I work directly with John Haniotes and Shannon Devinger. They are both very personable and are always ready to answer questions or do whatever is needed to help us out. Being a local bank, they are part of the neighborhood and always there for their community. Most recently, they helped us in receiving a loan for our new station being built at 1004 S. Hough in unincorporated Cook County. We have set up multiple accounts that we need for our District and they are there to assist when we need to change something. Working with John Haniotes and Shannon Devinger is always a pleasure! Everyone else in the bank always makes a point to say hi and ask how everything is going. Brad Stetson, Jon Stickney, Burke Groom, and others need to be applauded for their professionalism and personal touch. We are glad to do business with BB&T.”
– Chief Jim Kreher
“I lead the Wintrust Family Office Banking initiative with clients and help them succeed in business. BB&T is engrained in the Barrington community and plays an integral part of so many great businesses and charitable organizations. Plus, BB&T hired me out of college, so the organization is a big part of my career.”
– J. P. Hills
“I am proud of joining Barrington Bank nearly 20 years ago, and very appreciative for getting the opportunity to grow personally and professionally within various divisions throughout the Wintrust family since then. I am Senior Vice President of Wintrust Managed Assets Division. Over the past 25 years, BB&T has established itself as more than a bank, but as a community institution that maintains a local focus with its staffing, business development, and volunteer and charity work.”
– Will Knapik
“As customers of Barrington Bank for over 22 years, we’ve enjoyed the personal, friendly, and courteous service. Bank chairman Brad Stetson’s leadership abilities generate customer confidence and loyalty. He is always available to talk and discuss all banking options. Our relationship with our personal banker, Christine Sherman, for the last 19 years has maintained our loyalty to Barrington Bank. She has done an outstanding job as our financial advisor. We feel like family, and over the years Sue, Nancy, and Pam, and all the tellers, have been there to help out. We’re grateful for their support. That’s what makes a community bank!”
– Linda & Ted Chesney
“Our family businesses have been in Barrington for over 50 years, and we are thankful to have BB&T who knows and understands our businesses. BB&T has helped us grow as we have made major equipment purchases, helped us simplify some of our banking needs, and helped us get through COVID when schools shut down with their SBA & PPP assistance. We all enjoy working with our personal banker and having tellers who know us by name. We are a family who calls BB&T our business and personal bank.”
– Jack Zucco
“Responsive, personal service is our modus operandi. Management accessibility, timely loan decisions, and a central location, make doing business with us convenient. The bank’s team provides leadership, and supports local institutions and organizations. Collectively, this is our community.”
– Chuck Van Fossan
“Brad Stetson, Jon Stickney, and Jim Bishop have led BB&T not only through their leadership , background, knowledge, and expertise, but also by the staff and employees that they have hired. Due to their choices, this bank has remained a community-focused bank with community-focused employees who have been talented, friendly, and professional. It has been my privilege to be associated with all of these caring, hardworking, and dedicated people.”
– Richard Smith, MD
“I attribute the bank’s success to the PEOPLE who have been committed from the beginning, or joined in the mission during these 25 years, to be a true community bank. There are many regulations and policies that must be followed to be successful, but the spirit of the staff and board has been the foundation. The success and generosity of the bank means that important, inspiring causes and events that benefit so many are sponsored and supported at a significant level by Barrington Bank & Trust.”
– Sam Oliver
“The Bank portrays the essence of community banking by its presence in and support of the community. The investments we make with our capital and our people has been successfully embraced by the Barrington community. We look forward to our future in the Barrington communities and hope the next 25 years are better than the last.”
– Peter Hyland
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