Commerce U.: A Stunningly Unique Corporate Conference Center for a Very Different Brand of Bank (Corporate Meetings & Incentives)

By Bob Andelman
Corporate Meetings & Incentives Magazine
October 1, 2007 12:00 PM

Picture a dramatic atrium lobby, sleekly adorned with glass, marble, and granite, featuring a cascading water wall that soars 28 feet high and a curving, chrome staircase that leads to a bridge walkway over the lobby. Glass walls of different textures, which create a physical sense of clarity and accessibility, surround you.

What sounds like a classy, soaring urban hotel is actually the new Commerce University, the training center built by Commerce Bancorp Inc. in Mount Laurel, N.J., near its corporate headquarters.

This spectacular building is not only an investment in the bank’s unusual culture, it’s also a symbol of the company’s passion and commitment to training. This is a different brand of bank: Its 450 branches, from Connecticut to Southeast Florida, open early — typically 8 a.m. — and close late — usually 8 p.m. And they are all open seven days a week. The $48 billion bank operates more on a retail business model than a bank model, and it is often compared to Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Nordstrom for its convenience, service, and design standards.

Some of the transaction volumes at Commerce “stores” are unheard of, with as many as 100,000 transactions a month. Few businesses in any retail sector are used to that kind of volume, even McDonald’s.

“We grow about 50 stores a year,” says Rhonda S. Costello, dean of Commerce University, “But it’s not only store employees that we train — it’s everyone throughout the organization. So when we get folks who we know are going to be a right fit for our culture and our organization, we want them to grow with the company.”


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Copyright 2007 Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman

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