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September 21, 2016

Double the fun - Challenges of the Lake Wales & North Sebring offices

Increasing the land and visibility of our North Sebring and Lake Wales branches was doubly challenging, but doubly worth it.

The Gary Road office was the credit union’s first location. The second and third branches were in Lake Wales and North Sebring. These branches were built around the same time and shared a common flaw—both had a small drive-thru, and both were built with the drive-thru up against the property line.

North Sebring

As MIDFLORIDA began to expand, both of these branches had complaints about the wait in the drive-thru. So we decided to try to expand both branches, but we needed land to do so. We told the branch managers to let us know if adjacent properties ever came up for sale.

A few months later the North Sebring branch manager called and told me that the oil change shop next door just sold. I jokingly replied, “Just sold? You were supposed to let us know when it came up for sale, not after the fact.” I decided to go ahead and call the new owner and see if they might flip the property to us.

The shop had been acquired by a chain of oil change shops and the owner was located in Tallahassee. He said that he would be happy to sell the location to us because it was their furthest southern location and his son, who managed the business, didn’t want to drive that far. We bought it for the purchase price, which was a great deal.

Lake Wales

The Lake Wales expansion wasn’t quite as easy. Fortunately, the adjacent building was for sale, so the purchase was relatively easy. However, the neighbor to the back was a locally famous newspaper reporter who decided to write an unflattering article about the expansion. He was not happy about us expanding the branch, and the additional traffic it might bring to his side street. Fortunately he was a reasonable man and with some accommodations (new fence, etc.) he agreed to let us move forward.

Stand-out changes

Expanding these branches not only increased the drive-thru capacity, the additional land made the branches stand out on the highway. These expansions significantly improved the visibility of both facilities, which quickly became huge successes, and continue to be two of our best-performing offices.

“Every Branch Has a Story” is a blog series by Kevin Jones, President/CEO of MIDFLORIDA and an employee of the credit union since 1992. The blogs chronicle the history of the MIDFLORIDA branches, and discusses how each came into existence.