Bank President/CEO, J. David Vlahos
Superior National Bank & Trust Company has a long and rich history with the story beginning in 1890.
At this time, the Quincy Mine opened at the top of Quincy Hill in Hancock, Michigan. The area was rapidly growing, and banking during this era was focused on the commercial nature of business rather than the small depositors. Seeing the need to serve the small depositor, a local group of area businessmen led by Charles Wright, got together to form Superior Savings Bank and opened for business on April 1, 1890. Charles Wright was made the president. He, along with the founders, were men of vision, but little did they know that their dream was about to take off. The bank received a national banking charter in 1908.
Quincy Mining Company, the largest employer in the area, had a work force of 484, a number that doubled in the first 5 years of operation. By 1910, the Quincy Mine had 2,019 employees. Those workers were looking to build homes, establish savings and build lives for themselves, and Superior Savings Bank was there to help them do just that. The townspeople lovingly nicknamed the bank “The Working Folks Bank” because it was a place where the little people could come to withdraw or deposit their money, get a loan, plan for their future and get a smile.
For the first nine years, Superior Savings Bank was located in the back of a jewelry store on the corner of Quincy and Reservation Street. Eventually, Charles Wright bought the entire building, demolished it, and built a beautiful, new three-story building on the same site. It was furnished in the newest style, heated by steam, and built of pressed brick and Jacobsville sandstone. The bank occupied the entire first floor of the new building. Jacob Gartner opened a department store in another part of the building and professional offices occupied the remaining space. This would be the bank’s home for 60 years until the growth of the business made it necessary to relocate. The original building was sold to the Finnish Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the search was on for a new building site.
In 1960, the bank constructed a new building on our current site at 235 Quincy Street, Hancock. The lot had been occupied by St. Patrick’s Church until fire destroyed the building in 1937. The new bank was considered the most modern office complex in the Copper Country. The massive 12-ton vault door was moved from Superior Savings Bank’s original building by professional movers from Chicago, Illinois. The original vault door is still located in the Hancock Main Office, although it is not operable. The new building also featured a state-of-the-art drive-up window, the first in the area.
In order to provide a broader range of banking services, the bank established the Superior Trust Company in 1902 with a capital investment of $150,000. The establishment of the Trust Company opened up new investment worlds for bankers at a time when brokerage houses were getting the lion’s share of their business in copper stocks. When Calumet & Hecla Mining Company stock hit $1,000 a share, the financial world watched in awe. William Payne, memorialized by the Village of Painesdale, Michigan, was an original shareholder of the Superior Trust Company. On December 6, 1941, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency approved the merger of Superior National Bank and Superior Trust Company. Unfortunately, the celebration was overshadowed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor the next day, December 7, 1941.
In 1964, bank President Gunnar Miller was convinced that the bank’s destiny lay in expanding to other locations throughout the Copper Country. It was decided that the first branch would be located in Baraga, Michigan. “We didn’t want our competitors to know about it,” Miller said. At that time, Michigan banking regulations required that any branch had to be located no more than 25 miles from the main bank, and an engineer certified that the prospective Baraga branch was only 24.596 miles from the main facility. The new office became a reality in 1966. Miller was told that it would take the Baraga branch five years to break even. They broke even in 14 months. Other branches soon followed. The Hubbell location opened in the mid-70s, and the Copper Country Mall branch quickly followed in 1980. Branches eventually opened in Calumet, Mohawk, Chassell, and Houghton. In 2009, Commercial National Bank of L’Anse merged with Superior National.
Superior National has had 18 presidents. Our current president, J. David Vlahos, joined Superior National in 1996. He, along with our Board of Directors, is committed to the rich and colorful history of this bank. This history includes standing by our customers through good times and bad. The same customer orientation that began over a century ago remains the backbone of our customer experience. Our skilled staff specializes in meeting the banking, financing and investment needs of individuals, small businesses, and corporations. In-house management means quick responses to your requests. Our banking operations are reflected in the character and strength of the people we serve…you.
Charles Wright would be proud to know that Superior National is now the largest, independent bank in the Upper Peninsula. In addition, American Banker magazine rates us in the top 200 community banks in the nation.
Thank you for choosing Superior National Bank & Trust Company.