If the story of the Firstrust Bank headquarters renovation in Conshohocken were a streaming service series, its title might have been The COVID Factor: What a Time to Rebuild a Building.
Nonetheless, with equal parts of determination and patience, the work continued to unfold, navigating ever-changing health provisos, supply-chain tangles, labor shortages, and other issues that hit construction projects nationwide.
The obstacles Firstrust overcame made the Jan. 19 official opening of the Firstrust headquarters that much more a reason to celebrate.
More Than Just a Structure
For Richard Green, Firstrust Executive Chairman, the moxie exhibited by the project’s leaders to forge ahead despite the challenges is typical for an area financial institution with decades of experience in boldness.
“It was a task that was deemed by some to be too risky for the uncertain and uncharted times,” he said. “Offices, we were told, were a thing of the past. And most companies were moving out, the so-called experts said, not building up.
“But as you know, Firstrust has never been just any company.
“We didn’t become Phila.’s hometown bank and one of the leading financial institutions in the region by listening to so-called experts.”
Green characterized the Firstrust headquarters renovation as being prioritized because it was about more than just a structure.
He described it as a site in which Firstrust employees can do what they do best: collaborate on the best financial products and services to meet and exceed customer needs.
Green stressed the importance of professional cross-pollination in a shared space, something the pandemic inhibited out of necessity.
“It’s in the office that you can build relationships professionally and personally with peers,” he said. “Where you can find solutions to challenging problems. Where leaders and mentors are just a few steps away. Where you can talk to, work with, and learn from the best in the business.”
In conclusion, he said he was very optimistic about what the revised headquarters meant.
And he finished with an appropriate Jewish blessing for a new home:
“Let no sadness come through this gate,” he recited. “Let no trouble come to this dwelling. Let no fear come through these doors. Let no conflict be in this place. And let this home be filled with the blessings of joy and peace.”
Chief Operating Officer Peggy Leimkuhler then deeply thanked the architect, design firm, general contractor, sub-contractors, and county inspectors who all contributed to the final product.
“The investment here will bring benefits to our enterprise and our employees for years to come,” she said. She called the 70,000 sq. ft., five-story building “…practical and collaborative but beautiful and inspiring.”
Leumkuhler then oversaw the Firstrust donations to local first responders, highlighting the bank’s tradition of being embedded deeply in the communities in which it does business. The support comprised two $2,500 checks, one apiece to Spring Mill Fire Company and Whitemarsh Community Ambulance Company, in Conshohocken and Lafayette Hill, respectively.
Doing the Things in Need of Doing
Firstrust CEO and President Tim Abell commented, “For those of us who have worked in this building over the years, it is remarkable to see the transformation, noticeable from the moment of entry.”
After citing the structure’s many assets — the airy café, the tech-friendly conference rooms, the modern training facilities — he called it a “…space to which people want to come, space to allow us to interact and innovate together.
He continued: “[It] will enable us to continue to grow our business, to focus on the things we need to do to support our customers over the long term.”
He then enumerated those essentials:
- Investing in the technology, products, and services that customers want
- Knowledgeable about the marketplace
- Fiscally responsible
- Fanatically responsive
“That’s what we’re aiming to do here,” Abell concluded.