Rick Cantele Interview:
This is tape 166A. This is Jean McMillen. Today’s date is Dec. 6, 2017. I am interviewing Rick Cantele, President of the Salisbury Bank & Trust. He is going to talk about his career in banking. First we will start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
JM:What is your birthdate?
RC:July 11, 1959
JM:Where were you born?
JM:What are your parents’ names?
RC:Richard and Cynthia Brazzale Cantele
JM:Do you have siblings?
RC:Yes, a sister Laurie and a brother Michael. I am the oldest.
JM:Where did you get your bank training?
RC:Really 95% of it has been on the job training. I did attend college as finance major at Fairfield University and I graduated in 1981. I also attended Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Delaware.
JM:You had a connection with Jack Rogers. He asked you to come in for bank training.
RC:Yes, when I graduated from college, my picture was in the Lakeville Journal indicating that I was a recent graduate and finance major. I received a call from Jack Rogers, President of SB&T at that time Ed.) (See tape #90A/B Jack Rogers) The bank was starting an officer training program back in 1981 and he was inquiring about my level of interest in applying for that position.
JM:I know that you were born in Meriden, Ct. but how did you get to this area?
RC:We lived in Canton, Ct. until I was in 4th grade because my father worked at Travelers Insurance in Hartford. He and my mother had grown up this area. My mother had grown up in Lakeville and my father had grown up in East Canaan. We moved back to East Canaan in 1968. My father commuted daily to Hartford from East Canaan.
JM:When you came to the bank, what was your career Path. How did you start?2.
RC:My first job was as a teller.
JM:Obviously you moved up because you are now President.
RC:Yes. I worked in many different areas of the bank so I knew all the different jobs. I started as a teller: I was taught by the then Head Teller Herman Hertig who had been with the bank for a long time. I worked through the teller line for years. Then I became the Head Teller who is responsible for supervising all the other tellers. I worked my way over to what is called the platform which you do many things. Back in those days you were a jack-of-all –trades. You did everything from opening accounts to making loans to customer, to buy and sell stock for customers. I worked under some of the senior leadership of the bank at that time, in particular, Tuck Cummingham, and Margaret Hahn. (Jack Rogers retired from the bank in 1983 Ed.)
JM:Who took over from Tuck Cummingham as President?
RC:John Perotti. (He retired in 2005 Ed.)
JM:Did you take over from John Perotti?
JM:When did you become the President?
RC: I became President and Chief Operation Officer in 2005. I became President and CEO in 2009.
JM:What does a bank president actually do?
RC:The bank president has many responsibilities such as carrying out the strategic plan as developed in conjunction with the Board of Directors. The bank president is the primary liaison with the Board of Directors. He has oversight of the entire staff and the performance at the bank on a daily basis. He is there to ensure the bank carries out its responsivities in terms of its major stake holders who are our customers, our community, our shareholders and our employees.
JM:Now the bank has grown over the years from 12 employees when you started to 192 staff now. How many branches do you have?
RC:We have 3 in Massachusetts, 4 in Connecticut and we have 7 in New York State, a total of 14 branches.
JM:You have probably 20 to 25,000 depositors.
RC:I actually think it is more than that now.
JM: What services does your bank offer?
RC:We offer all services that one would expect a bank to offer. We do all types of lending plus deposit products that consumers look for. On the lending side we offer consumer lending and residential home lending. We offer commercial loans and any other area expected of a full service bank. We also have a full service Trust and Wealthy Advisory Department that offers estate planning, succession planning for businesses and wealthy management.
JM:The Trust Department is over in the Bissell House.
RC:Yes, it is right behind the bank. That department has grown to the point that it over 6oo million in assets under administration. The Trust Department has been around since the late 1800’s.
JM:Oh, I didn’t realize it had been around that long.
RC:The Salisbury Bank & Trust was formed as a result of a merger between the Salisbury Savings Society (chartered in1848) and the Robbins Burrall Trust Company( Incorporated in 1909).
JM:Thank you. This is not your first location. The original bank building was located on Farnam Road in Ken Athoe’s old house. Then it moved to what is now the Assured Partners building on the corner of Holly St. and Main Street in Lakeville. You moved down here in about 1885?
RC:No it must have been about 1981, because when I started in 1981 I started here. Since then it has been added on to a couple of times.
JM: You have the Lakeville branch where we are now at the corner of Bissell St. and Main Street in Lakeville. You have a Salisbury branch at 18 Main Street, Salisbury, which began in 1964, (See file # 8, cycle 3 Alice Kent) a branch in Sharon and a branch in Canaan.
RC: The Canaan branch was a result of an acquisition of the Canaan National Bank in 2004.
JM:Generally how has banking changed? Has it gotten more restricted?
RC:That is an understatement. Much of community banking back in the day was done by looking at three things when you were making a loan: character, capacity and collateral. We looked at the character of the individual was a subjective determination based on our knowledge of our community and the people in our community. What that meant was if somebody borrowed money, are they going to pay it back. Back in the day a lot of lending was done with a handshake because you knew that they were going to pay it back. Over the years it has gotten much more complex than that and a lot more complicated. There are many more regulations. It is much harder to loan money than it used to be. That is an understatement. From the compliant and regulatory standpoint it has gotten extremely challenging.
JM:What do you like best about your job?
RC: I like best that we can make a real difference in the communities which we serve. It sounds old fashioned, but community banks are notorious for and I believe they are economic engines for the communities that they were. The big banks aren’t interested in little towns like Salisbury, Lakeville and Sharon. Our staff volunteers for in many events. The bank makes contributions to non-profits like the Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts and those types of things. We take deposits in from our community and we make loans to our community so we are an economic engine for Main Street America.
JM:Is there anything that you would like to add to this interview before we close?
RC: No I don’t think so.
JM:Thank you so very much.
RC:You are welcome.