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When the building on the corner of Third Avenue and North 30th Street came up for lease, Danny T. Skarda was ecstatic.

Skarda, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Bank, knew the Billings economy was strong and that opening a downtown branch would be a savvy strategic move. But finding the perfect location was not easy.

“It took four years, but we finally found a great space where we could serve our customers and become part of the downtown community,” Skarda said.

Proud history

Established in Billings in 1977, Rocky Mountain Bank began as a single store on Central Avenue. Since that time, the bank has grown to include 10 branches and 130 employees across Montana.

“Today, we are a full-service bank that offers a sophisticated platform of financial services for both individuals and businesses,” Skarda said.

That broad spectrum of service is proudly reflected in the bank’s slogan: “The big bank punch with the little bank touch.” It’s a winning combination of personalized service and state-of-the-art technology that hallmarks Rocky Mountain Bank, and it’s something that they are pleased to bring to downtown Billings.

Building for success

Once the decision was made to move forward with the downtown branch, Skarda and his team still had their work cut out for them.

While the large, ground-floor location was ideal, the interior was not. The space, which had long been unoccupied, looked like a relic of the 1980s with dark brown flooring, burnt orange walls and oak and brass accents.

“It required a total renovation,” Skarda said.

To help guide the process, the bank contracted with Bill DuBeau, an architect with A&E Architects to redesign the space, and Sam Bergman with Langlas & Associates Inc., as the project manager.

“The space was dark and cavernous,” DuBeau said. “We needed to bring the scale down to create a more intimate customer experience.”

After gutting the interior, plans called for constructing several individual offices plus a conference area to reduce the open space inside. A new line of teller stations was located along another wall, while the customer seating area and circulation paths were visually separated by beautifully crafted custom cabinetry. Stair-stepped soffits in the ceiling, layered lighting and a palette of warm, neutral colors helped brighten the space.

“Throughout the entire first floor, we used the same color palette and design elements as the other Rocky Mountain branches to reflect the brand identity,” DuBeau said.

From a construction perspective, the transformation was impressive.

“The owners had a very clear vision for this project,” Bergman said. “They wanted the bank to be welcoming and very approachable from the downtown street, and they wanted to use high-end finishes match their other branches.”

Bergman points to the new teller line and use of handcrafted cabinetry with sand-blasted glass detail and decorative lighting as examples of the thoughtful design.

“The whole space transformed from 1982 into a beautiful, modern bank,” Bergman said. “Rocky Mountain Bank has made its mark in downtown Billings.”

Investing in your future

With construction completed and the new branch open for business, Skarda and his team have set their sights firmly on their customers.

“Banking is about building relationships that add value to the customer,” Skarda said. “We take the time to go to our customers’ business, learn about their needs and work with them to find innovative ways to add value to their business.”

Skarda points to the bank’s use of the latest technology in helping business customers.

“Many business owners use our e-deposit machine — a scanner that’s smaller than a telephone — to scan checks and have them immediately deposited into their account. Not only does that eliminate writing out a deposit ticket and driving to the bank, but owners have access to their funds quickly and easily,” he said.

Mobile banking, online banking and fraud protection are just a sampling of other technology the bank offers to customers.

And when it comes to lending, Rocky Mountain Bank can service any size company.

“We have the ability to make small, mid-size and even very large business loans — up to $40 million,” Skarda said.

Exemplary customer care

Danny Skarda and the entire Rocky Mountain Bank team are very pleased to have a cornerstone in downtown Billings.

“We invite everyone to stop by, tour our new branch and learn how our products and services can help you achieve your financial goals,” Skarda said. “We think you’ll be wowed by our staff and what we have to offer.”

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Editor of Billings Business, a publication of The Billings Gazette.