Denise Laizer has been a banker for almost her entire professional life. Last year she celebrated 25 years with Easthampton Savings Bank (ESB), and save for a brief, two-year stint at a mortgage company, she has been in community banking for 40 years.
“I enjoy the community bank environment,” the Granby native said of her lengthy career. “I love people. I started out in residential lending, and I’m now in charge of an entire lending department. It’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of nice people, and I like helping them.”
During her tenure overseeing residential and commercial lending at ESB, the bank’s loan balances have increased almost 200 percent. ESB is now the top residential lender by market share in Hampshire County.
But it hasn’t been easy. There’s been “a lot of changes over the years,” Laizer said, particularly in the compliance field. But “the addition of a compliance officer makes a huge difference. We have someone to rely on now.”
Michael Roy, ESB’s compliance officer and Laizer’s colleague for eight years, said that feeling of support is mutual.
“Denise is a joy to work with, and a very nice person,” he said. “She’s fun and friendly, and has a very upbeat personality. Not everyone is friendly with the compliance officer. She respects the role of compliance and is very supportive of it.”
“She knows the needs of the community, and has been instrumental in coming up with products and services that meet those need,” Roy continued. “That’s why she’s been so successful, and has led us to be the number one lender in Hampden County.”
With so much experience, Laizer’s opinion carries weight with the senior management team, said ESB President and CEO William S. Hogan Jr.
“She is very valuable asset at the table,” he said. “She looks at things from an employee perspective, and makes sure that those who don’t have a seat at the table are thought of and represented.”
“It’s growing more and more difficult to get your arms around community banking, around banking in general, to know who people are, to treat them properly, and that’s one of the reasons why the bank has been so successful – people like Denise, who have longevity, and a strong relationship with their staff and the community,” Hogan said.
According to Hogan, when Laizer looks at a loan on a balance sheet, it’s more than just a number – it’s a person that deserves the best she can give them.
“She has a focus on doing right by our customers,” Hogan said simply.
Married for 37 years, Laizer raised two sons and two of her nieces. It was “quite the household,” she says, but she doesn’t miss them – “they keep coming back!”
Laizer channels her hobbies into fundraising. She is an avid golfer and bowler, and participates in the bank’s golf tournaments and the bowl-a-thon for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She also loves to sail, and has two boats.
But she said she’s not ready sail off into the sunset just yet.
“No, I’m not thinking about retirement – I’m too young for that!”