Wells Fargo says service should remain the same under new name

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — After 108 years, Salisbury no longer has a Wachovia bank.
The city’s largest financial institution has become Wells Fargo, part of a year-long transition across North Carolina. Local bank officials marked the bittersweet change Wednesday during a ceremony featuring a Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by four horses.
“This is the most unusual ribbon cutting I’ve ever been involved in,” said Mayor Susan Kluttz, who stepped gingerly in and out of the stagecoach for the nostalgic 15-minute ride.
The old-fashioned horse-drawn stagecoach had a modern escort — a police cruiser in front to stop traffic, and a Segway zipping alongside the carriage. Charles Taylor, president of Taylor Clay Products and a member of the bank board, rode shotgun with driver David Helmuth and watchdog Jack.
Susan Sides, president of Historic Salisbury Foundation, provided images from old postcards for a mural inside the main branch at 130 S. Main St. and rode inside the coach with Kluttz.
While names of the four Wachovia branches in Rowan County have changed, it’s business as usual as Wells Fargo, Market President Bill Greene said. No one lost a job as a result of the merger, he said.
“It’s the same great people, the same consistent staff and service,” Greene said.
The transition has been smooth, with customer-service scores remaining high, said Terry Renegar, Wells Fargo community banking president. Account numbers did not change, and people can use their old Wachovia debit cards, unless they prefer a new card with the Wells Fargo logo, he said.
“Any time you have a name change, there is anxiety,” Renegar said. “We want to alleviate that.”
Wells Fargo purchased Charlotte-based Wachovia in December 2008 after a government-forced sale to avoid a failure of Wachovia. Since then, Wells Fargo has hired 528 new employees in North Carolina, including 165 in the Charlotte region, spokeswoman Christine Shaw said. In Rowan County, 60 people work for the bank, Shaw said.
Greene said the bank’s foundation will continue charitable giving and presented four checks Wednesday to back up his pledge:
• $21,000 to the United Way of Rowan County.
• $13,000 to the Norvell Children’s Theatre.
• $5,000 to Downtown Salisbury Inc.
• $2,500 to the Community Care Clinic.
Since he started in 2004, Greene said the foundation has given away more than $1.5 million to local charities. The money “has helped build this community to what it is today,” he said.
A history buff, Greene said Wachovia was the only bank in Salisbury that stayed open every day during the Great Depression. Bank officials would unload money in public when it arrived from Winston-Salem to build trust in the bank, he said.
Wells Fargo has three locations in Salisbury and one in China Grove. The bank is No. 1 in Rowan County for deposits with $183.7 million and a 20.5 percent market share, followed by F&M Bank and SunTrust.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.