Hopewell Valley Community Bank Pennington Branch employees include account representative Lola Crosby, assistant branch manager Beatriz Vargas, branch manager Ruth Powell, CEO James Hyman, head teller Debbie Alvarez and teller Adam Greer. (Staff photo by Carolyn Steber.)
Hopewell Valley Community Bank Pennington Branch employees include account representative Lola Crosby, assistant branch manager Beatriz Vargas, branch manager Ruth Powell, CEO James Hyman, head teller Debbie Alvarez and teller Adam Greer. (Staff photo by Carolyn Steber.)

The Hopewell Valley Community Bank, which opened its doors in February 1999, came from what president and CEO James Hyman calls “humble origins.” Before moving to its current location in Pennington in December 1999, the bank was located next to a petting zoo in the former Pennytown Shopping Village.

“The office was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. And when you opened the windows you could smell the petting zoo,” Hyman said. This modest beginning came from taking the shareholders into consideration.

“We didn’t want to spend money on grandiose offices,” he said.

The bank was formed in a humble way as well. Chairman Patrick L. Ryan started the bank when he got together a group of local investors and a board of directors. The group sold stock and gained capital, which got the business going. Hyman, who had been a banker for over forty years. stepped up for the position of CEO.

They formed a mission early on, promising to provide personal service for their customers.

“We believed Hopewell Valley needed a locally owned and managed financial institution that could take the time to understand the needs and residents of the greater community,” Hyman said.

Hyman said they have kept true to their word, primarily working with small businesses and home owners by meeting their credit needs and deposit services.

“Our whole culture and our whole business plan is based upon the desire to provide service and experience and time for customers,” Hyman said.

Hyman says the bank’s employees are constantly complimented on their friendliness and ability to remember faces and customers. As employees of a bank that prides itself on being for the people, he said they all take the time to speak with them personally. Hyman said that when a customer calls, they will actually reach a live person and not a prompt or a menu. These are the qualities he believes make HBCV stand out from the rest.

“At our bank, you’re not just a number. We provide lots of technology in terms of the services that are available to our customers. But when they want to talk to a real person, that’s when we really get a chance to excel,” Hyman said.

The bank goes a step further by being involved with many local community events like the Hopewell Harvest Festival and Pennington Day, as well as by supporting local charities. They helped Rescue Mission of Trenton by helping them obtain a $300,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank. The loan helped build and improve an apartment complex that will be provided to people who would otherwise be out on the street.

Hopewell Valley Community Bank has eight offices including three in Hopewell Valley, one in Princeton, one in Hamilton, one in Ewing, one in Ringoes and the newest one in Flemington. They currently have more than 80 full-time employees.

“Even though we have eight offices, we’re very much a small bank at heart,” Hyman said. “We really are a relationship-oriented bank.”