History of The Adirondack Trust Company
Saratoga Springs, New York
With “the strength of the Adirondacks” as its original motto, The Adirondack Trust Company combines innovative banking with personal, face-to-face service for its customers.
In today’s fast-growing Saratoga County market, The Adirondack Trust Company is the leader in market share---and in customer service. Its community-bank philosophy dates back to its founding in 1901, as a vehicle for financing ventures in upstate New York.
The bank’s founder, New York State Senator Edgar T. Brackett, recognized the importance of the bank to Saratoga Springs, an exclusive resort known for its curative mineral waters, racecourse and casino. Brackett exhorted his successors to see to it “that the bank is managed not only for the proper purpose of making money for its stockholders, but also for the development of the community where it is located, and to be an example of high dealing to all who come in contact with it.”
This vision guided the early bank, which immediately launched a savings department, provided mortgages, and recruited the town’s first large factory.
In 1910, Brackett and his close associates fended off a sale attempt, keeping ownership local. Even through the Depression of 1929, the bank remained strong, guided by its president, Charles Van Deusen. Newman E. Wait succeeded him in 1937 and saw to it that the bank remained forward-looking, taking initial steps toward automation and opening the region’s first drive-up window for banking. Despite the bank’s strength, the city’s economy became stagnant due to changes in its historically important resort business.
BUILDING THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN SARATOGA SPRINGS
The foundation for the rebirth of Saratoga Springs was completed by 1966 under the presidency of Newman E. “Pete” Wait Jr. Aided by the construction of the Adirondack Northway (Route I-87), the citizens of Saratoga Springs, with leadership by The Adirondack Trust Company, built a modern, stock-holder-owned hotel; financed the construction of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC); and supported a brilliant expansion plan by Skidmore College.
Joining the bank in 1974, Charles V. Wait took an active role in the city’s 1974 “Plan of Action,” which responded to competition from the first shopping centers with a well-conceived downtown revitalization; within three years, a formal historic preservation movement was also in place. Charles chaired the Saratoga Springs Plan of Action and the Saratoga Springs Convention Center Committees. He also was the first chairman of both the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority and the Saratoga Springs Special Assessment District.
The beginnings of suburban development in the same period led to the bank’s first branch office in 1970 known as the West Church Street branch. Since then---while never changing its resolve to serve the local market---the bank has been guided by its strategic planning to construct offices throughout Saratoga County and has an office in Glens Falls, Warren County and insurance offices in Cambridge, Washington County and Albany. The Bank has ten branch offices and three insurance offices in Albany, Saratoga and Washington Counties.
During Pete Wait’s tenure, it became an accepted fact that the major projects in Saratoga Springs were supported---and often led---by the bank. When his son, Charles V. Wait, succeeded him as president in 1984, he continued this philosophy. Today, bank employees work thousands of hours annually for community organizations, and the bank itself is a generous contributor to hundreds of worthy non-profit initiatives each year.
LEADING IN COMPUTERIZED BANKING
The Adirondack Trust Company led in the use of computers as early as 1962 and, with the technology revolution, it has been quick to maximize its potential. Automated teller machines (ATMs) were introduced in 1980, assisting the bank in serving an increasing transaction load while it maintained its highly personal service in all face-to-face transactions. In 1987, computers supported the launch of the bank’s trust department, which now has nearly $400 million under management.
Computers were brought into direct customer use with the launch in 2000 of WebWise® Online Banking. In the first year, nineteen percent of the bank’s checking account customers signed up for this service. Now nearly fifty percent of the bank’s checking customers use WebWise Online Banking.
The Adirondack Trust Company’s reputation continues to grow. Every year the bank receives the highest accolades from the various rating services; informally, it is sometimes called “the upstate Morgan.” In 1989, Money magazine listed it among the nation’s 100 safest banks, a distinction that gave it coast-to-coast visibility of the best kind.
By the end of the 20th century, the revival of Saratoga Springs was nationally known. All five of its most visible projects of the period---two new commercial buildings downtown, adaptive reuse of a large mill, expansion of the city’s senior living complex, and an elegant hotel restoration---were financed by the bank.
The bank has continued to grow through the acquisition of four insurance agencies in five years. The bank now provides a full complement of insurance services to personal and business customers. From auto, home and life insurance to employee benefits programs, worker’s compensation and general business liability insurance services, the bank continues to grow and meet the expectations of its customers.
To accommodate its expanding business the bank constructed a new building near its main office. The new building, named after the Mabee family, is 25,000 square feet and houses a variety of departments such as insurance and trust. In staying with the bank’s philosophy of helping businesses grow, there is ground-level retail space at below market rates for new entrepreneurs.
The bank continues to adhere to strict financial standards. Our strong financial results are a testament to the commitment that the bank (the only one owned and headquartered in Saratoga Springs) makes to its balance sheet while helping local customers grow and expand. By remaining a strong, locally owned and operated bank, they are positioned to help individuals and businesses in the bank’s market area. Financial stability allows the bank to continue to give significant dollars back to nonprofits throughout its market area and in turn help hundreds of organizations. Employees contribute thousands of hours to serve on the boards and be involved with local community organizations.
The most noted hallmark of the bank is its continued commitment to dedicated customer service. Each day, every single transaction is as important as the first one when the bank opened its doors for business on January 2, 1902. Every single employee is accessible to customers via the phone or in person. This commitment and paying attention to the details of each customer relationship is what truly has established the bank as a leader in its market.
Saratoga Springs is an economic powerhouse, and The Adirondack Trust Company, which celebrated its centennial in September 2001, is its premier bank, with a forty-eight percent market share in Saratoga Springs. With total assets over $985 million, The Adirondack Trust Company today gives evidence of its motto chosen long ago: “It has the strength of the Adirondacks.”