BY RICK WRIGHT –
Union Bank has been serving Mena and all of Polk County since 1934. “We rose up out of the Great Depression,” said Union Bank President and CEO Philip B. Hensley. “There were bank failures back in those times. That’s basically how we got started. This bank was actually born out of a failed bank. The depositors had a choice of taking money or ownership. Some did take ownership stock rather than getting their money from deposits. Our ownership is pretty much entirely here in Polk County.”
“We are the largest bank in Polk County based on Polk County deposits,” said Hensley with pride as he explained that the bank takes that position seriously and a desire to return to the community that invested in its success. “We strive to be a good corporate citizen here in Polk County. We feel like the investments we make, be it time or a financial investment, comes back to us many times over,” said Hensley. “If Polk County doesn’t do well, we won’t do well. So, we are very committed to this area. Union Bank employees are always involved in community events.
“We have a big interest in helping all three county school districts,” said Hensley. “We feel like that’s important, to do what we can for each district. We do a lot of things for our college, Rich Mountain Community College and for the hosptial, Mena Regional Health System to establish ourselves as helpful leaders in our town and in our county.”
Union Bank also realizes that their greatest assets are their dedicated employees and their willingness to serve the community beyond normal banking hours. Hensley shared, “Last night, I was at a Mena Lioness function and I think we had five or six of us there. Generally, I don’t have any trouble getting people to do extra curricular type of events in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends.” He added, “I’ve got a lot of committed, hard workers here. And it makes my job pretty easy.”
Like all industries, banking has seen its share of changes over the decades, especially in the way of technology, but Union Bank is committed to what they know has been the center of their success and growth. “We want people to know, our heart and commitment is to Mena and the surrounding area. Technology and regulations have changed. A lot of how banking is done has changed. We’ve tried our best to keep regulatory changes and technology changes to a point where people don’t notice a lot of change. We feel like relationship banking is all about us knowing our customers,” said Hensley. “And truly trying to help not just in the good times, but in the bad times.”
The Union Bank branches in Hatfield and Wickes serve south Polk County. “We have a lot of customers in south Polk County. We are just as committed there as we are here in Mena. It’s not just a Mena thing, it’s an area deal.”
Union Bank of Mena has been a big part of Mena’s history and plans to be an even bigger part of its future. “Mena has always been a pretty independent town because we’re isolated. We’re use to doing things ourselves and pulling together,” said Hensley. “I can’t think of a better place to be isolated than in Mena, Arkansas. We have a lot of blessings here we take for granted; I know I do. What’s good for the county is going to be good for us.”