About the First Bank of Troy, Idaho
By Denny Hatch
As I was canceling my First Union business account, the lady asked why I was leaving. I said it was because I was dunned twice for two cents and collection action was threatened. "That was a system thing," she explained. "A person did not do that to you. It was the system. No person ever sees what is mailed to customers. You should have come to me and I would have taken care of it."
Bob Hemmings is one of the great men of direct marketing. Now in his 80s and proprietor of the Hemmings IV Direct agency in Pasadena, CA, Hemmings is dapper, intense, powerfully built, immediately recognizable with his Adolph Menjou mustache and bone crusher of a handshake.
In his younger days, an employer of Hemmings was Frank Brock, president of the First Bank of Troy, ID. Troy's population in 1960 was 514; Brock's bank had 6,000 active accounts—12 times as many people who lived in the town. He had customers in 45 states and around the world as far away as Pago Pago, American Samoa.
What was Brock's secret?
Hemmings recalled that Brock knew precisely what business he was in. "I am in the financial services business to help provide finances for my customers—from the cradle to the grave," he said.
Brock once made a loan to a man who had robbed the bank five years before. He was caught and served three years in prison. Brock said: "He has learned his lesson. I don't hold past mistakes against him. He is a much more stable individual now."
According to Hemmings, Frank Brock knew practically all of his customers by their first names; whenever a good loan customer ran into financial difficulty, the bank carried him—without dunning notices or piling up interest charges—until he was back on his feet.