January 7, 2019

Worcester’s bank CEO

Photo | Brad Kane
Paul Scully, President & CEO of Country bank, Ware

Paul Scully, President & CEO, Country Bank

Employees: 237

Bank assets: $1.6 billion

Founded: 1860

Age: 62

Residence: Worcester

Birthplace: Arlington

Education: Bachelor's degree in business management, Bentley University; MBA, Suffolk University

Last year, Country Bank CEO Paul Scully moved out of his Sturbridge home for the new 145 Front St. apartments in Worcester, where his bank has 30 percent of its commerical loan portfolio.

When did the bank expand to Worcester?

We've been lending in Worcester for more than 50 years, so we've had a significant loan portfolio here for a very long time. I often wondered why when we didn't initially have any branches, and I was told, it goes back to the days when people didn't want to bank in the city where other people knew their business.

When did the branches open?

We've had a branch on Park Avenue for the last three years, and we've had the business loan production office on Main Street for the last two years.

I bounce my time between Ware and Worcester. It is easy for me because I live at the new 145 Front Street apartment complex. I can just walk over here. I have a random schedule. It keeps everyone guessing, "Where's Scully?"

How are the new Front Street apartments?

Terrific. I lived in Sturbridge for 15 years, and I was looking for a change and wanted to be part of the Worcester Renaissance, both personally and professionally. The bank has been financing a lot of the big projects in Worcester, and all of us as bankers are excited about what is happening. I said to myself, "Listen, if we all feel this, we've got to make sure all these stores and restaurants are successful." There are people who can move that needle. So, I sold my house and moved to Front Street. To my knowledge, Country Bank is the only bank doing business in Worcester where the CEO lives in the city.

What major projects have you financed?

We are financing the Kelley Square apartment complex Harding Green. We are financing a medical office at 288 Grove St. We were just the lead lender on the $90-million refinancing of the Mercantile Center. That was a big deal.

How much of your business is in the area?

Of our $1.2 billion in loans, $650 million are commercial. Of those, $200 million is in Greater Worcester.

How do you keep a Worcester reputation while being headquartered in Ware?

We are right in the community. We are a founding sponsor of the Worcester Railers. We are a founding sponsor of the Worcester Red Sox. I first started meeting with the Red Sox back in the early spring, and it has been very exciting. At my apartment over at Front Street, I'm on the top floor, and my window overlooks where the ballpark is going to be. It is going to be a very exciting view.

What are you long-term goals?

We are looking at all-technology, people-free branches. Five years ago, you would have said that didn't work, because people want to deal with people. Now, go to the grocery store and see how many people use the self checkout. We will use technology to enhance the customer experience.

That saves on your costs as well.

You are saving on staffing costs, and you are saving on real estate costs, along with the capital investment of what it takes to open a branch. You are extending the hours in which people can bank with you.

I hear your Ware headquarters is an interesting place to work.

We are in a mill building out in Ware, and it has a real Google vibe to it. It is a fun destination to come and work.

We've been in the space for 14 years. When we first moved it, we outfitted it according to the trends at the time, which were these high cubicle walls. You didn't see anybody all day, and if you wanted to communicate, you emailed your colleagues.

One day I was walking around there, and I said, "This is terrible. There is absolutely no energy." If we wanted to attract the talent we needed, we had to have a place where the atmosphere really reflects the company. We bulldozed everything we put up 11 years prior, and we put in collaborative workstations, flat-screen TVs, glass conference rooms, a cafe like a Starbucks cafe. We have a large glass refrigerator with fresh fruit for everybody. There are probably 30 beach balls flying around at any given time.

It is amazing how much it changed the vibe of the company. It came with a price tag, but it was worth the investment. It will continue to attract talent; it is not about my generation but about people younger than me who will make a difference.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.


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