A career to bank on








Ray Lipman poses for a
portrait Wednesday afternoon at the Westbury Bank on
South Main Street in West Bend. Lipman has stepped away
as the director and chairman of the board of Westbury
Bank.

John Ehlke/Daily News

In
banking, not much differs in what Bank A and Bank B
offer to customers.

So,
the golden question in banking is often this: How do you
set yourself apart from the others?

Ray
Lipman thought the best way to do that was keep it
simple, while also providing a welcoming experience each
time someone walked through the front door.


After 40 years in the business, Lipman steps away,
feeling good those two tactics worked at Westbury Bank.

“We
were a very small institution at the time,” Lipman said
about what the state of Westbury Bank when he started
with the company. “The big competitors back then were
the same ones today, but they had different names back
then, like Associated Bank, US Bank, Chase Bank and BMO
(Harris Bank).

“We
were like a dwarf compared to them. (I) really wanted to
become the No. 1 finance institution in the county.”


According to Kirk Emerich, Westbury’s executive vice
president-investor relations and chief financial officer,
assets have grown from $125 million to $750 million in
the last 20-plus years. The bank’s assets were $40
million 40 years ago.


“I’m a very happy guy,” Lipman said, adding he’s very
proud and the bank will hold a special place in his
heart.

“He
built a good machine here,” Emerich said.







Ray Lipman poses for a portrait Wednesday afternoon at
the Westbury Bank on

South Main Street in West Bend.


John Ehlke/Daily News


Lipman resigned as chief executive officer in 2015. In
July 2015, Greg Remus was named his successor, effective
Oct. 1, 2015. Lipman stayed onboard as chairman of the
board to help with the transition of leadership.

The
time for him to step aside has arrived.

“My
work is complete here,” Lipman said.


Lipman started with Westbury Bank in its finance
department, working with the business’ accounting.


“Things were a little different back then,” Lipman said.
“We had ledger cards and no computers and we were
savings only. We didn’t have any checking accounts.

“It
was a pretty simple business.”


Lipman got into banking because he loved the idea of
helping customers reach their dreams, such as getting
customers a loan for their first house.


“It’s not just a bunch of numbers,” Lipman said. “But
it’s really the people part of the business. I always
found it very rewarding that you’re helping families
with buying a home, financing education. You make a real
difference in your community. And you get to know
everybody.”


Later, Lipman advanced to the role of operations
officer. In 1991, he became president. Two years later,
Lipman became CEO and became chairman of the board in
2005.

“I
wanted to build an organization that supports a
community,” he said when asked what was his goal when he
became president.


“Banking has become a commodity,” Lipman said. “They’re
all pretty much the same services. So it’s really the
people, the brand and now with the fact that people are
banking through technology, how does your brand come
through?”


About 10 years ago, Lipman said the company did a
branding study, see how customers perceive Westbury.

“We
really focused on those characteristics, how we handle
our customers, how our technology looks and how we treat
each other incorporates that brand,” Lipman said.
“That’s why, I think in the last 15 years we’ve grown to
the point where we have.”


Lipman pointed to another example of how he believes the
bank separated itself from others: the logo.


“There’s certain characteristics about it that shows
we’re not stuffy,” Lipman said. “Our name is small case.
Most banks are big. We’re equal to everybody else and I
think that’s why it made the difference and why we’re
No. 1 in deposits in Washington County. We have more
customers.”


Before arriving at Westbury, Lipman was in public
accounting for five years and spent a lot of time away
from his young family. He eventually decided he had
enough of life on the road.

The
Chicago native who went to college at the University of
Wisconsin- Whitewater found and fell in love with West
Bend.


“It’s a great community,” Lipman said, adding, “No
regrets.”


Reminiscing about his career in a conference room at
Westbury Bank’s location on South Main Street in West
Bend, Lipman said, “I remember, our building was really
small here. In the early 80s, we had like eight teller
windows. Things have changed a lot.”


Lipman doesn’t want to call it retiring. Instead, he
called it “one door is closing and another one is
opening.”

He
plans to continue his involvement with Frank Lloyd
Wright Foundation among other opportunities, including
corporate governance.

“At
the end of the day what makes a bank different is the
relationships,” Emerich said. “Whether it’s on the
retail side, dealing with customers, or on the
commercial side, dealing with business customers.

“I
think we’ve built the right team to do that.”

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