President and CEO, Country Bank
Industry experience: 44 years
When Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully looks out his living room window in downtown Worcester, he can see the Worcester Red Sox’s new home of Polar Park. The ballpark includes a blue “Worcester Wall” in right field, reminiscent of Fenway Park’s Green Monster, and above the stands is a 56-foot sign for Country Bank.
Scully first learned that the Red Sox might bring minor league baseball to Central Massachusetts from Pawtucket, Rhode Island when one of Country Bank’s customers invited him to a dinner where Larry Lucchino, chairman of the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, was the featured speaker. The bank ended up becoming one of the team’s founding partners. Based in Ware, the $1.7 billion-asset Country Bank has 14 branches in Central and Western Massachusetts. Scully, who began his career as a bank teller while a student at Bentley College, has been at Country Bank for 25 years, including 16 years as president.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue a sponsorship with the Worcester Red Sox?
A: We have been a lender in the Worcester market for over 50 years, but we didn’t have a strong market presence. Over the last few years, we’ve been developing that market presence, and I heard early on that there was some talk about the Paw Sox looking to relocate to Worcester. I was in Haiti for five days [in June 2018] with Tim Murray, the former lieutenant governor who’s the president of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, on a trip to build a house, and he said, “Hey, I’m going to come down and see you on Monday about something.” So, Tim came into my office, and he told me who to connect with at the Red Sox because there was a chance they could be coming to Worcester.
I met with the Red Sox. They were trying to keep things low-key, so we met for lunch at a restaurant over in Mendon that’s part of the zoo. We had a great conversation, and the rest took off from there. It wasn’t until August of that year that they made the formal announcement that they would be coming to Worcester, but in the interim and then in the ensuing months, what I got to know about the Red Sox is their commitment to the community and the involvement they want to have with all the businesses and different organizations in the city. Really, it’s going to be an engine – an economic engine and a social engine – with so many components to it. We wanted to be a part of that.
Q: What will the partnership involve?
A: The Sox spent a lot of time getting to know us, getting to know our culture and developing the type of sponsorship that we feel really represents the organization nicely. We have several different pieces to our sponsorship. We have the large 56-foot sign over the blue wall in right field, the Worcester Wall, which is the equivalent of the Green Monster. The Sox understood and really got to experience what our commitment is to service, so we also have the Country Bank Fan Center, which is the equivalent to customer service. It’s representative of the level of service that we provide to our customers.
We’re also a very philanthropic organization, so we teamed up with the Red Sox and with the WooSox Foundation and will be supporting various nonprofits in the course of the season. We have an extensive teacher-of-the-month program that will now be expanding with the Red Sox. The partnership is not just marketing the bank’s name but really representing what Country Bank has always stood for and what the Red Sox are all about and their true commitment.
Q: How might Polar Park affect Worcester from an economic perspective?
A: The transformation has absolutely been amazing in the area where the ballpark will be. Were it not for this hiatus that the pandemic created – and it will be short–lived, thank goodness for the vaccine – it will create more business opportunities. If it creates more business opportunities, it creates more jobs. And if it creates both those two components, then there’s obviously opportunities for banks – County Bank and others – to become part of that and see more lending opportunities.
I think that the financial engine that the team can bring to this area is really, really significant. I would liken it to Fenway Park. Look at all the housing that’s around it, the restaurants, the retail. That’s what the vision is for Worcester, but it will be at Worcester prices. Minor league baseball is family friendly; it’s fun friendly. I think it’s just going to really get a lot of business developing in Worcester, as well as housing opportunities, because people will come here not just because there’s a concert at the DCU Center, but because it’s a destination. We have great restaurants, too.
Q: How have the staff reacted to the Worcester Red Sox partnership?
A: We announced early on what we were going to do, and I think people wondered, “Ok, but there’s no park yet – what’s that going to mean?” For us, it’s kind of unique in that our marketplace is Central and Western Mass. Unlike folks that may live within a half hour or 45 minutes of Fenway Park, it’s a significant undertaking to go to a game. I think many of our staff members who live west of our headquarters in Ware are saying, “This is pretty cool – we’re going to be able to go to a baseball game that is affordable and that we can take our kids to.” We obviously will have tickets and have a lot of different events that we can host for our staff. They’re getting pretty excited for it.
Q: What else does the sponsorship mean to Country Bank?
A: Something really positive is developing rapidly in this city by a group – the Red Sox, Dr. Charles Steinberg and Larry Lucchino – who are so committed to being in the fabric of the community – like a community bank. We’re in the fabric of it. I think that’s the exciting part for us to play our small role in it, but more importantly, to be a part of seeing a city that’s really transforming. That is just tremendous to see.
Scully’s Five Favorite Bike Rides
- Maine and New Hampshire coastline
- Ride to Remember from Springfield to Boston, honoring first responders
- Pan Mass Challenge from Sturbridge to Provincetown
- Anywhere in Central Massachusetts
- Evening “happy hour” at home on his Peloton