Connecting Communities: Unite Through Design

As the world changes, so do the needs of the people in our communities.

A common attribute that both NewGround and Baker Boyer Bank cherish? Design with humans in mind.

We sat down with Mark Kajita, President and CEO of Baker Boyer Bank, along with NewGround’s very own Brad Ritner, Director of Design Strategies, and Jill Schumaier, Director of Interiors, to chat about how design impacts and connects communities.

Envision Your Legacy

What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

After 150 years of evolution, Baker Boyer Bank, the oldest bank in the state of Washington, has tailored their approach to fit the needs of not only their customers—but also their local community.

“There needs to be a symbiotic relationship between the community and the financial institution, and when that happens, you can have continued long-term growth for both parties,” said Mark Kajita, President and CEO of Baker Boyer Bank.

Baker Boyer Bank broke into the Yakima market about 18 years ago and found their presence in the area successful. Recently, they looked to NewGround to design a new branch in the area—their third location in Yakima.

“I think we are barely scratching the surface of our business banking and commercial lending side,” said Mark. “This is really about how we can assist you on a long-term journey and the legacy that you want to leave.”

Unlike any branch before, this was less about a retail branch and more about a regional presence. To align with Baker Boyer’s vision, their new branch would have to be designed outside of the box—not just like a traditional branch.

“Mark had a vision for their new branch, and I knew this would not be your typical branch design,” said Brad Ritner, Director of Design Strategies at NewGround. “I instantly picked up on Mark’s sense of responsibility to the community. Not only is this about growing Baker Boyer Bank, but it’s about growing the entire Yakima community—and that really struck me that Mark and his team really understand their community.”

There is no better feeling than knowing you are on the same wavelength when it comes to your vision and goals to leave an everlasting legacy.

“I had this feeling that NewGround really got us and understood the experience we were envisioning our clients to have,” said Mark.

Treated Like Family

Let’s face it: you want people to listen to you and be genuinely understood, no matter what kind of business you’re dealing with. You want to be treated with respect and care. Baker Boyer Bank gets that.

“We pride ourselves on our experience with relationship building the second a client walks in the door,” said Mark. “Our job is to give them a sense of empowerment and opportunity. For us, this isn’t about how many ITMs we can have in the branch, and this isn’t about setting up a large operations center so we can push through numerous transactions.”

At Baker Boyer Bank, they treat you like family.

“We have family advisors that work with clients in a financial, emotional ‘therapy’ session to provide a more connected experience,” said Mark. “NewGround’s Design Team ensured that they would create spaces for this and really devoted time to meeting with us to understand our vision and brand, giving us tours of the Chicago Merchandise Mart to look at furniture options, evolving interior finishes, and branding areas.”

“When we met with Mark, he really focused on the progression of the relationships with their customers, and become like family,” said Jill Schumaier, Director of Interiors at NewGround. “The vision was to set up different rooms to enhance the progression of that relationship.”

For those who are not Baker Boyer Bank customers yet, there is a specific area designed for that. In a casual, more informal zone, Baker Boyer Bank spends time to truly understand their potential customer and their needs. This allows for the Baker Boyer team to determine which of the beautifully-designed consultation rooms their guest would feel most comfortable discussing personal financial matters in. As that relationship blossoms, the rooms they can meet in change and become a little more formal, as needed.

“The relationship journey informed us on how to lay out the space,” said Jill.

By fostering that relationship during each visit, they are able to turn a potential customer into a loyal customer.

Baker Boyer Bank | Yakima, WA

Grounded in Communities

What’s more captivating than a stunning view?

“The view of the Yakima Valley from inside the new branch was crucial. We had a lot of discussions around the importance of integrating that view into the customer experience,” said Brad. “We were fortunate that Mark and his team had put a lot of thought into their desired customer journey before we ever entered the picture.”

The goal was to preserve the gorgeous view and not create any obstructions.

With a commanding 360-degree view of the entire Yakima Valley, clients can look out and think about things more openly and freely. It can bring a sense of calmness while enlightening and empowering the customer to think outside of the box.

Another important design feature to draw in the locals? Creating a community space.

“We created a space on the lower level with some serious square footage dedicated to events for the entire community,” said Brad. “Mark insisted on designing a space that belonged equally to Baker Boyer Bank and the local community.”

Baker Boyer Bank | Yakima, WA

“With our conference space, we want the community to be able to rally together,” said Mark.

Opening their doors to charities, churches, professional organizations, and local functions, Baker Boyer Bank’s community space can accommodate up to 100 people. Hosting events like wine and cheese nights can create an alliance between locals from both western and eastern Washington. People of all demographics can unite in this new communal space, which benefits the entire community.

NewGround’s Design Team worked side by side with Baker Boyer Bank to produce a stunning interior transformation.

“A big part of our discussions was the interior fit, finishes, and furniture as it reflects on the attitude and impression of the building,” said Jill. “Mark’s commitment to his employees and the community inspired us to create a classic, yet contemporary space and utilize things such as adjustable height desks in specific areas and meeting spaces.”

“Jill did a really good job finding a balance between both older and younger generations’ preferences, incorporating classic, beautiful furniture,” said Mark.

From top to bottom, the new Yakima branch design has considered all elements that will benefit the community.

“Design concepts, operational standards, architecture, floor plans, HVAC codes, and specified finishes and furniture are all strategically chosen alongside Mark and his team,” said Jill. “We will also work with them to produce a graphics package along with any artwork, essentially causing us to touch everything in the building by the time the project is complete.”

Future Fulfillment

Baker Boyer Bank’s new Yakima branch will be considered one of the premiere buildings in the area—uniquely different than any other typical new commercial building. With that comes planning for the future that lies ahead.

“Our team projects growth in the area, and all of our past experiences designing main offices and branches give us great understanding and possibilities for future needs,” said Jill. “If you have that extra space for more meeting rooms or workstations, it will benefit you later on down the road.”

Baker Boyer Bank | Yakima, WA

Future-proofing your space allows for expansion as your needs change and trends change, affecting the workforce of the future.

“Five years from now, you don’t want to run out of room and have to build another facility, so putting in a buffer allows for more expansion and keeps you covered for a number of years,” said Brad.

The investment is worth it!

“This is the type of experience we want not only for our clients, but what every client in the country deserves,” said Brad. “If you’re looking for a long-term business model that will withstand the test of time, this is the way you do it.”

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