By: Jim Butcher | Category: Financial Services | Issue: May 2015
American Heritage Bank Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager Tami Fleak, left, welcomes Zarina George, the newest employee of the Tulsa branch, located at 71st and Union. Zarina performs double duty as bank teller and assists customers with their postal needs.
Not long ago, state law restricted a bank’s remote facility (drive-through window or branch) to be located no farther than 1,000 feet from the main office. Not any longer. Today, branch banking has exploded, with a different financial banking facility or a branch office practically on every corner and in the supermarket.
What does that mean? Choices! And that is a good thing. However, it also can be overwhelming. The two main reasons customers choose a bank is friendliness and service.
“We at American Heritage Bank believe that it is more important to have a good, solid relationship with a customer – regardless of whether their account is only a few dollars or a major corporation with millions of dollars – where they can realize their financial needs,” explains Tami Fleak, assistant vice president and manager of the Tulsa branch. Located at 71st Street and Union Avenue, this branch is the only American Heritage branch located in Tulsa.
“We are a community bank,” Tami adds, “and that is important to many people who believe a bank should be an integral part of the community – their community.” She defines a community bank as locally owned and operated, with the bank’s money staying here, not being exported to another state.
“Our customers range from small children to some who are a hundred years old,” says Tami. “It is critical to us that we provide a wide range of services to meet all their banking needs. Some customers may want more tangible services, including physically talking to someone, shaking someone’s hands, providing a paper statement. Others like more modern services such as mobile banking.”
Tami began her banking career with American Heritage nine years ago in marketing, having directed the Sapulpa Main Street program for six years. However, her involvement with the bank started at an early age – 16, when her father created a savings account for her. He wanted her to learn the importance of actually paying for something. So, he purchased her first car and required Tami to make regular payments to him. He deposited all the money into the savings account, and when she graduated from high school, he returned all the money to her. “It was a very important lesson for me,” says Tami.
Tami is married to Sapulpa Fire Chief Steve Fleak. They have two sons, 21 and 24, with the eldest son also a member of the fire department.
Community banking is like having a second family, Tami explains. Both the owners and the employees are involved in the community, wanting to make it better. “I have 13 employees here at the Tulsa branch office, and we do everything we can to serve our customers and help the community.” She noted that the branch office has a full-service U.S. Postal Service facility inside, where tellers assist customers with their postal needs.
Recently, AHB added two more financial institutions – Osage Federal and the First National Bank of Pawhuska – to its growing family.
“After more than 100 years, American Heritage continues to expand, and we’re a bank that lives and works in the communities we serve. We tailor our services to the needs of our neighbors,” says Tami. “American Heritage is one of the oldest independently owned banks in the Tulsa area. In the early 1900s, the world’s largest oil field was discovered in Glenpool, and AHB links its beginnings to this discovery.”
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Jim Butcher is a retired, award-winning newspaperman who continues to write as a freelance writer and photographer. He owned the Tulsa Front Page weekly and was executive editor to Neighbor Newspapers' 13 metro newspapers. Currently, he writes for Value News and has become a paid assignment screenwriter, along with a University of Oklahoma professor who wrote Brad Pitt's first feature film. His award-winning screenplay is on the historical Osage Indian Murders of the 1920s.