BAR HARBOR — Many businesses claim residence in Bar Harbor, but few can say they have been headquartered here for 135 years. Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, which grew from humble beginnings in 1887, is celebrating such a feat this year.
The Bar Harbor Banking and Trust Company was formed on March 4, 1887, and a Bar Harbor location soon opened for business. Due to its success, a second location was established in Northeast Harbor in 1914, and today there are four locations on Mount Desert Island.
The banking company – which has 53 branches in northern New England and 525 employees – will always call Bar Harbor home, said bank President and CEO Curtis Simard.
“Home matters to us greatly, no matter how much we expand,” said Simard, who has been in the bank’s top role since 2013. At the time he was hired, the bank’s holdings included 14 branches, all located in Maine. Now, even the branches as far away as Woodstock, Vt., carry the Bar Harbor name.
As a community bank, its role in the community is paramount, said Simard, and for the bank’s employees, it is just part of the culture. Simard said that employees actively volunteer in the community. They can choose where to volunteer and are given time off to do so.
On average, the bank’s employees spend about 3,000 volunteer hours per year in Maine.
While the motives may be altruistic, having employees out in the community is also good for business, explained Simard. Instead of waiting for customers to contact the back, employees are out meeting people.
If you bank on Fridays, you’ll notice employees wearing casual attire. Every week, employees can make a donation in exchange for wearing casual clothing. Those funds are pooled, and the employees decide where to donate. Since 2018, more than $100,000 has been donated to Maine nonprofits, said Joe Schmitt, chief marketing officer for the company.
This is in addition to the bank’s philanthropic efforts and event sponsorships. Over the years, the bank has supported various efforts at MDI High School and all the elementary schools in the form of donations and scholarships, the YMCA and YWCA, Seacoast Mission, Camp Beech Cliff, College of the Atlantic, local food relief agencies as well as the Mount Desert Hospital. More than 100 island-specific, nonprofit organizations have benefitted from bank donations.
Next week the bank will sponsor a business boot camp program hosted by Mount Desert 365 and will award $10,000 to two local businesses. The three-day event consists of extensive training for two employees from participating businesses. Participants will learn from industry experts on topics such as solving business challenges, managing financials and fundraising. The event ends with a contest that gives each business a chance to pitch their plans to judges who will award the prize money.
Participating businesses include Bub’s Burritos, Cranberry Oysters, Eden Street Flowers, The Exercise Design Lab, Little Red Flower Truck, MDI Girl Pasta Co. and the Nor’Easter Pound & Market.
The in-person event, which will take place on Sunday, March 6, at 4 p.m., will have limited attendance and registration is required. The pitch portion will be streamed live for those who wish to watch from home. To register for the in-person event or to watch from home, go online to www.mountdesert365.org/business-boot-camp.