Klaas de Waard, Branch Manager of the Community Bank in
As a child in
After high school, Klaas traveled to
Reflecting on marriage he gave a few words of advice; “It’s not easy to stay married, because you don’t really know each-other when you get married.” He went on to describe the union wittily, “It’s like jumping into a pan with cold water.” Also, “It’s an adventure,” he said. “If you both go into it with an attitude that you want to make it work, it will work.” His wife and he had children when they were young, so one of the most difficult times in his marriage was when they finally left the house. “My wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘What do we do now?’” They spend much of their spare time together, going out to eat, seeing plays and performances, walking, and watching movies.
In respect to Klaas’s professional life, he started at Marine Midland / HSBC in 1969 shortly after he immigrated to
At HSBC, his role was primarily in branches and branch management. “I didn’t really like branch administration because you don’t really deal with customers much, you deal with bank people,” he said. “That gets real old, real quick.” This statement speaks of Klaas’s easy going persona. His motivation and work ethic are unquestionable, but even through his vigorous efforts he has a way of keeping people at ease.
He has an incredible focus on the customer, which is what serves him well as a branch manager. “Our real goal is to help our customers reach their financial goals.” He does this by getting to know them, being open to conversation, and building relationships with them. More often than not, one can find him out in the lobby chatting with customers and his staff making sure everybody is doing well. He insists that there are many ways banks can help people. “At this bank they told me when I started, ‘Don’t worry about your goals this year just get to know your customers.’” He enjoys his current role in
Some of his fondest memories include his year as an exchange student, college in
The little things that make Klaas who he is primarily involve his wife. When asked about what he does in his spare time his first response was, “the Honey-Do list.” In addition to the many activities they do together, Klaas enjoys staying active within the community. He teaches a few classes through the Junior Achievement Program put on by the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce. He is also active in the Avon Lion’s Club and he serves on a few non-profit boards including the Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts. It his important for him to stay visible within the community in his line of work, so he takes joy in all of these activities.
Besides being involved in the community, Klaas loves to read. Growing up where he did in
Other than reading he enjoys Sudoko puzzles, sleeping, white water rafting, and flying. In fact, he gets eight hours of rest a night and he wanted to be a pilot when he grew up. He has one cat and the first movie Klaas ever saw was The Lady and the Tramp in the early 1950s in
Some of Klaas’s pet peeves include dishonesty and micro-management. He said that he will hold a grudge against somebody if they lie to him. In respect to the latter, “If you pay me to do a certain job, let me do my job.” Both of these traits reflect how he runs his office. He treats his customers and staff with respect and compassion. They always have the freedom to do their job and his honest opinion when a situation arises. “You make mistakes,” he says. It is important to be forward about it, reflect on it, and move on.
Three people Klaas would like to meet are Bill Gates, whom he admires a great deal because of his down to earth persona and entrepreneurial spirit and John F. Kennedy, whom he actually met at the end of his exchange program at the White House. This was merely six months before Kennedy’s tragic death. Another, and the most unique, is the Greek philosopher, Demosthenes. As a youngster in
In retirement, Klaas plans to travel much with his wife. She currently works at the
Klaas defines success in a few ways. First, he stated, “If I sleep well, I feel good about myself. That is the big one.” Next, he reflected on his influence as a branch manager, “I started a loan for somebody who started a Mary Kay business and she sent me a thank you note. I had never had a thank you note before, that made me feel really good.” He continued, “If people come back to you and say it was really nice what you did, that makes me feel good. I think that is part of your success.”
In parting, Klaas has a few words of advice that he has learned throughout his career as a banker. First, “All change starts locally,” he says. “You can do something about ‘right here.’” In addition, he reflected on how people deal with their finances. If people look for banking he said they should check the competition too. One needs to “do more research on whatever he or she is doing.” It is important, he says, to “plan your finances and not just shoot from the hip.”
In terms of education he recommends to get more of it. “It is important to find out what you want to do and go after it,” he states. Finally, he urges you to “feel good about yourself.” There are many things to do in life. “Don’t let anybody tell you what to do, you do it,” he states.
These timeless words of advice come from a man who has modeled them in his own life. When asked about a personal mantra, he simply stated, “I just want to help the customers.” One can always expect a smile and a friendly atmosphere when he or she steps foot into Klaas’s Community Bank in
Klaas W. de Waard
Community Bank, N.A.