Written by: Marlene Piche, SVP Head of Branch Banking, Union Savings Bank
As a small Connecticut community bank, we are proud of what we can offer to the Connecticut businesses we work with, building relationships that more closely resemble partnerships than business transactions. And what we can learn from our customers is immeasurable. As our customers explore the cutting edge of technology, restore the historic beauty of our Connecticut neighborhoods and build legacies that will stand the test of time, we have the unique opportunity to watch it all unfold. At Union Savings Bank, we are proud to serve as your Connecticut community bank.
Small Business Week, May 5-11, gives us the chance to reflect on the impact our customers make on our community. Over the years, we have had the chance to see all types of Connecticut businesses grow and succeed and their stories have inextricably intertwined with our own.
One of these stories started with the desire to bring nutritious, locally sourced food to Downtown Danbury Connecticut while celebrating the city’s diversity. “It’s no secret that I love Downtown Danbury and I am optimistic about its future! I’ve worked towards its revitalization, invested in property, and started my business here,” says Andrea Gartner, founder of Pour Me and a lifelong Danbury resident and community supporter. “At Pour Me Coffee & Wine Cafe, we serve people who care about their health, the well-being of their families, and the rebirth of Main Street America.”
And as Gartner helps nourish the local Connecticut community with each meal, her customers help breathe life into Downtown Danbury’s network of small businesses. “Every day I am so thankful for those who make the decision to support a local business and do what it takes to show up at the café,” Gartner continues. “I’m proud that Pour Me has become a welcoming spot that reflects the dynamic and diverse mix that is our community.”
For John Koster, president of Koster Keunen Manufacturing, running a local Connecticut business is a dream five generations in the making. The business established by his great great grandfather and grandmother over 160 years ago is still going strong, providing refined natural waxes to the cosmetics, automotive, pharmaceutical and food industries, to name a few.
“I grew up in this business” says Koster, standing on the production floor of the Watertown manufacturing company. “It was always something that I wanted to do. Some kids have summer jobs raking leaves or mowing lawns; mine was actually working on these slabbing machines in a room just like this.”
Washington Supply Company may not have been passed down through relatives, but its owners and their customers treat each other like family. When a group of employees purchased the business over ten years ago, it was clear that they had a special connection to the Connecticut community.
“Community is so very important to our business. I mean, we look at everybody in many ways like a family,” says Jay Combs, Vice President of Washington Supply and one of the four purchasing employees. “Our whole philosophy is if you come in here to the store we try to know you, we try to understand what your problems are and get you solved.”
Small business owners take many leaps of faith in the course of running their business. Eileen O’Connor Kaminski took that leap, and landed in the heart of a local treasure. Every day, neighbors meet at LaSalle Market and Deli in Collinsville to enjoy a cup of coffee and a homemade meal, and each month, they gather for the LaSalle Give Back Series, a night of music and goodwill that supports a specific Connecticut community need.
“I feel like I don’t really own it,” Kaminski explains, “I feel like everybody owns it, and we’re all part of it.”
“People come here because it’s a different atmosphere than most restaurants. They feel very free to move around, to change chairs, to bring in their kids, and enjoy some of our board games – everybody comes in here, all walks of life.”
The small Connecticut businesses in towns and cities across the state aren’t just supported by the community around them. They are woven into the fabric of their Connecticut neighborhoods and into the lives of the people they touch. They help to tell a local story, and as they grow, each business becomes a unique chapter. Union Savings Bank has been a part of the Connecticut community for over a hundred and fifty years.
As you celebrate Small Business Week, we’d like to take a moment to give thanks. Thank you for trusting our team to help yours, and thank you for making Union Savings Bank a part of your business’ story.