—As soon as Mike Head heard the news of Integra Bank's failure and takeover by Old National Bank last month, he called his own bank's marketing firm.

Head, the top executive at Evansville-based First Federal Savings Bank, wanted the firm to put together some radio ads and get them on the air as soon as possible.

Integra's closure was sad for its employees and for Evansville in general, Head said, but it also presented First Federal with a big opportunity to grow its own business.

"With any kind of event, there's always a different side of it," Head said.

When Integra failed July 29, all of its customers were transferred automatically to Old National. But in any acquisition, local bankers say, some customers will switch their accounts rather than remain with the acquiring bank.

A number of local banks say they've added new customers as a result of Integra's failure.

At the same time, Old National said it's making its own efforts to hold onto the 120,000 clients it picked up from Integra.

In the past 10 days, Head said, First Federal has opened 150 no-fee checking accounts at its five Evansville branches. That number is three to four times higher than normal, Head said, and 90 percent of those new accounts are from former Integra customers.

The bank has actually hired a handful of new employees, Head said, because it has gotten so much busier in the past few weeks.

Owensboro, Ky.-based First Security Bank, which has one Evansville office, said it's also seen a spike in business.

First Security's president and chief executive officer, Lynn Cooper, said his bank has had to bring in additional staff at its Evansville branch.

"A good percentage (of the new business) is former Integra customers, and they're bringing numerous types of accounts to us," Cooper said.

Fifth Third Bank has done a little more advertising recently, and its bankers have increased their sales calls, said Rick Silvers, a senior vice president and retail executive for the bank's Southern Indiana market.

Silvers said Fifth Third has picked up some former Integra customers, but it's too early to say how many.

He acknowledged, though, that Integra's departure creates "a unique opportunity" for Fifth Third.

"For this kind of void to be created doesn't happen very often."

Not all banks are specifically going after former Integra customers, though.

Jasper-based German American entered the Evansville market last year.

In April, German American launched an Evansville-area advertising campaign to increase its general brand awareness in the market, said the bank's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Schroeder.

German American has "absolutely" picked up some of Integra's former customers, Schroeder said, but his bank's marketing efforts didn't change with Integra's failure.

"We intend to be here in a big sort of way, and we intend to be in here for the long haul," he said of the Evansville market.

For its part, Old National said it was fully prepared for what's happening.

Every time Old National acquires another bank, it expects some customer attrition, said Jim Sandgren, chief executive officer of Old National's southern region.

Sandgren said the attrition of former Integra customers is "right in line" with what he expected.

That's not to say that Old National is letting those customers go easily.

The bank is reaching out to former Integra customers at branch offices, on sales calls, and online.

"As business folks you take advantage of when there's opportunity — and we're trying to do the same thing, building fences around those customers," Sandgren said.

© 2020 courierpress.com, All rights reserved.