Adams Community Bank changes business model

To keep up with its growth, Adams Community Bank is planning to convert from a mutual savings bank into a capital stock savings bank, and open new branches in Great Barrington and Pittsfield.

ADAMS — Due to a significant increase in growth in recent years, Adams Community Bank is reorganizing its business model and planning to open new locations in Great Barrington and Pittsfield.

In April, the bank’s board of trustees approved a plan that will convert the financial institution from a mutual savings bank into a capital stock savings bank, while concurrently forming both a stock holding company and a mutual holding company.

“To our day-to-day customers this is really a pretty seamless transition,” said bank President and CEO Charles O’Brien. “Our name doesn’t change, our location and our products don’t change. This is really at the corporate level. Like many banks around the state we decided to form a holding company.”

The proposal is subject to regulatory approval by the state Division of Banks, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the U.S. Federal Reserve. It is expected to be approved during the fourth quarter of 2021, he said. Under the new structure, Adams Community Bank will not conduct a public stock offering. The plan calls for 100 percent of the bank’s outstanding shares of stock to be owned by the newly formed stock holding company, which will be called Community Bancorp of the Berkshires Inc. All of that stock will then be controlled by the new mutual holding company, which will be known as Community Bancorp of the Berkshires, MHC. When the reorganization is approved, the bank’s depositors will continue to be represented by the bank’s current board of corporators, who will become corporators of the newly formed mutual holding company. The corporators voted 76-3 in favor of the reorganization plan at the bank’s annual meeting in April, O’Brien said.

“This is the corporate structure that is necessary to convert the bank to a stock bank, but ultimately the parent company remains the mutual entity,” said O’Brien, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Bankers Association. “We embrace mutuality on a long-term basis. It’s a great business model for us. Adams Community Bank formed in 2011 when the Adams Co-operative Bank and South Adams Savings Bank, two of the county’s oldest community financial institutions, merged. The bank currently operates eight branches, two in Adams, and one each in Cheshire, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, North Adams and Williamstown.

O’Brien said the bank expects to open a new branch in Pittsfield in 2022 and a branch in Great Barrington within two years after that. The new branches are expected to add some 30 to 40 new employees to the bank’s current 115-member workforce, O’Brien said. Adams Community Bank last expanded in 2015 when it bought the former Lenox National Bank for $14.3 million. The bank’s assets grew 34 percent between 2014 and 2018.

“We have grown dramatically,” O’Brien said. “Even since the beginning of COVID there has been significant deposit growth of all types. ... Many people have decided to reconnect with community banks across the state and the country and we’re certainly one of them.”

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.