Perine set to retire as Middlebury bank CEO
MIDDLEBURY — When G. Kenneth Perine joined the National Bank of Middlebury in 1987 as a vice president and residential mortgage lender, he thought he had found his perfect career perch.
“It was all I expected,” Perine said during a recent interview. “I just wanted to work for the hometown bank.”
Eventually the Middlebury native found that he would not only work for it, he would lead it.
Perine was named president of the 183-year-old bank in January of 1992 and ushered in a period of tremendous growth for the institution.
Now it’s time for another transition.
Perine will phase out his duties as chief executive by the end of this year, and will then begin working on special projects at the bank on a part-time basis during the next two years. Executive Vice President Caroline Carpenter will succeed him as only the 11th president in the bank’s long history.
While the National Bank of Middlebury only formally announced the leadership transition this week, it has been in the works for the better part of 10 years as part of the institution’s long range planning, according to Perine, who will turn 63 in October.
“You get to a point in your career where you say, ‘It’s time,’” Perine said. “And it’s time for me.”
Perine believes “it’s time” for a number of reasons, including the desire to spend more time with family and to work on various household projects. But he also believes it’s time because he knows Carpenter is ready to become the top administrator of the bank. She has been part of the Addison County banking community since 1991, serving as a mortgage originator at Vermont Federal Bank for six years prior to joining National Bank of Middlebury in 1997. She is well versed in the technology side of the banking business, which is becoming increasingly important in the institution’s daily operation.
“The board is very appreciative of Ken’s leadership of our bank,” said Sarah Stahl, chairwoman of the bank’s board of directors. “His outstanding service continues a tradition of long-serving leaders. We are confident Caroline will pick up where Ken leaves off and will ensure the bank continues to bring real value to the communities we serve.”
A graduate of Middlebury Union High School (class of 1969) and Dartmouth College (class of 1973), Perine began his professional banking career in 1978, as assistant to the manager of the Middlebury Savings and Loan Association. He joined Vermont Federal Bank in 1981, holding the title of regional branch coordinator for the southern region when he left for the National Bank of Middlebury in 1987.
“I had done well (at Vermont Federal) and I liked the bank, but this has been absolutely the best move,” Perine said.
And a good move for the bank, according to growth numbers during Perine’s tenure there.
When he arrived at the bank in 1987, it had approximately 33 employees and around $50 million in assets. The bank had three locations, all in Middlebury — on Main Street, Seymour Street and in The Centre shopping plaza.
Today, the National Bank of Middlebury has around 100 employees, $300 million in assets, and branches in five communities: Middlebury (3), Bristol, Vergennes, Hinesburg and Brandon.
Perine credited the bank’s entire leadership team for the growth, along with an old-fashioned service style that he said has prevailed over the decades. For example, tellers often greet customers by name.
“We stress here in our motto that we are the best deliverer of financial services in our market,” Perine said. “The focus is on service delivery, and we believe we do that better than anybody. We try to live the attitude that every one of our customers, no matter how much you have on deposit here, is an important customer.”
Perine also cited the bank’s “commitment to a sense of community.” That has included financial contributions to various community projects, such as Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater and Bristol’s Howden Hall.
“We donate money, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Perine said. “More importantly, we donate resources of our individuals who work here, as leaders of the community, as respected contributors to various organizations. We also try to facilitate the work of a number of organizations, from allowing them space on our Website, plugging them in an advertisement that we do, or something we can provide support for.”
And Perine has walked the walk in that regard. His civic resume includes participation on various town and non-profit boards too numerous to mention. A small sampling: The Addison County Economic Development Corp., the United Way of Addison County, Hospice Volunteer Services, the Town Hall Theater, Housing Vermont and Porter Hospital. In many of these cases, he has served as treasurer or as a financial expert.
Perine has gotten particular satisfaction in working with affordable housing organizations, such as the Addison County Community Trust, which he helped found.
“A community is only as strong as its housing stock,” Perine said. “It centers people in the community; it binds them to the community and creates a sense of permanence, not transiency. I firmly believe that everybody deserves an opportunity to have a nice place to live that is decent, comfortable, affordable and safe.”
All of the meetings, many of them taking place in the evening, have meant for some long hours for Perine. But he believes it has been time well spent.
“If you live in a community you have to be a part of the discussion; you can’t sit on the sidelines,” he said.
Asked what he would miss most about his current job, Perine said it will be his daily interactions with bank staff and customers. He will also miss his role in helping people invest in their future, whether it’s a loan for a home, vehicle of other major purchase.
“I still remember fondly some of the people I wrote mortgages to 30 years ago,” Perine said.
A self-confessed “putterer,” Perine will find enough home repair projects to keep him busy, along with spending time with family. He and wife Carolyn have four children and nine grandchildren, with another two more on the way.
He has not plans to pursue a career in state or local politics.
“I’m not sure I have the demeanor to deal with the politics in Montpelier,”’ he said, with a smile.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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