As a teenager in the early 1960s, Bob Enck remembers leaving high school in the afternoons to help his father work as a custodian at what was then Elizabethtown Trust Company.
A few years later, during his freshman year at Millersville University, the bank asked him to work on the weekends stamping addressograph plates for a nickel per plate. Bob thought he was earning money to help pay for tuition; little did he know he was starting a career that would span nearly five decades.
Bob, the Market Manager for Susquehanna’s Elizabethtown office at 143 W. Market St., is retiring from banking after nearly 50 years in the industry. He began his career on May 15, 1963 at Elizabethtown Trust Company, which was purchased by Farmers First Bank (now Susquehanna) in 1981.
His retirement is effective April 1.
“The simple thing is: I never left,” Bob said with a laugh. “I liked the job. People think I’m nuts. You don’t hear about anybody staying in their job that long, but I’ve enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people and I wanted to be a hometown banker once I got my feet wet.”
The epitome of a community banker, Bob spent 22 years on the Elizabethtown Area School District School Board and is a founding member of the Northwest EMS Board, which serves Bainbridge, Elizabethtown and Maytown.
Currently, Bob is on the board of the Elizabethtown Area Education Foundation and helping with a capital campaign to raise $1.7 million to turf Jane Hoover Field and reduce the usage of Thompson field so it will be a high quality grass field.
Building relationships in the community is vital to the success of any community banker, Bob said.
“You have to know your people,” he said. “You can’t not be involved and expect to build those relationships. I don’t have to go out and knock on doors or cold call people to get prospects for the bank. I just need to come into the office. The phone rings and people come in, but it takes years to build those kinds of relationships.”
Those interactions and helping people become successful in business has been the most rewarding part of Bob’s career. He’s watched businesses he helped grow from a few hundred dollars in sales to millions.
Some of the businesses he’s helped are in their fourth generation of management, he said. “You really start to feel old when that happens,” he quipped. “Another thing – and it’s a little embarrassing – a young kid will come in and say, ‘My grandpa said I’m supposed to talk to you.’”
“Your grandpa said that?” Bob would reply. “Oh, my golly, who’s your grandpa? Then you find out it was someone you gave a loan to a long time ago.”
Another gratifying part of his job has been figuring out how to structure loans or other services for customers, he said. “People come in and need a loan, but they don’t know what kind of loan or how it should be repaid,” he said.
During his time at Susquehanna, Bob has held numerous positions: Assistant Treasurer, Branch Manager, Assistant Vice President, Vice President and Market Manager. In his current role, he assists small businesses and assists four branches in the Elizabethtown area: Columbia, Marietta , E-town North & E-town Main.
The part he will miss most about Susquehanna? His coworkers and the businesspeople in town, he said.
Of course, you don’t work 50 years at a job without some funny moments.
In the mid 90s – 33 years after he started – there was an arts fair on the Elizabethtown square. The branch decided it would serve milkshakes for the fairgoers, but employees couldn’t find the key to the water faucet they needed.
Bob remembered seeing the key 33 years ago hanging on a nail in a closet in the branch’s lobby. When he checked the closet, “by golly,” he said. “There was the key on the same nail, same place, 33 years later.”
An avid horseback rider, Bob hopes to spend more time on the saddle in retirement. He and his wife also ride their bicycles on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. While his last full day in the office is Friday (March 8), Bob said he will be in and out of the office during the next few weeks performing various tasks.
When asked what he will likely do after waking up during his first day of retirement, Bob admits, “I will probably check my email,” he said with a smile.