In just over one year’s time, a construction department consisting of four employees managed the renovations of nearly 700 locations in six states. Think about it: that averages out to at least one completed project per day. How was it done? Read on.
It all started when the leadership team for Huntington Bancshares Incorporated sought to breathe new life into its brand and branches. So, the company developed a new brand design in early 2010, then test-drove the changes at a pilot group of eight locations. When the designs were final, the firm began an enterprise-wide rebranding effort in the spring of 2011, wrapping up the overhaul in mid-2012.
The rebranding project had two primary objectives: the modernization of assets and greater uniformity between locations. “Huntington, like most banks, has been put together through acquisition over the course of several years, so each of our buildings is a little bit different,” explains Jason Vallance, senior vice president and corporate director of facilities management. For example, he notes that the company’s older locations lacked many of the e-merchandising elements that were already included in newer branches. “We wanted to find consistency for the franchise, so you knew you were approaching a Huntington Bank.”
One of the most noticeable facets of the project is the new signage at all Huntington locations, including new pylon signs and new box signs on the buildings. Additional changes were also implemented at individual branches according to a tiered scale determined by average customer engagement—one of the many ways Vallance’s department improved efficiency in the rebranding efforts. “On some locations, we did a full renovation of the interior,” Vallance says of branches that fell into tier A. “That included new carpet, new tile, new soffits, a new teller line, and new 42-inch plasma screens behind the tellers.”
By comparison, branches designated as tier C simply received new signage, e-merchandising updates, and minor touch-ups to highly visible areas. Locations in between the two extremes were addressed individually and were evaluated for refurbishment based on the available budget and the amount of time each had left on its lease. “In many cases, they received carpet and paint in addition to the signage to help pull together a consistent look,” Vallance says.
While conducting updates, Vallance and his team constantly had to plan around building elements specific to the banking sector, including vaults, ATMs, and security measures. “If you do a six-sided vault, for example, you need to make that step two after doing the foundation and then build around it,” Vallance says, and he adds that his team also had to keep in mind particular design requirements such as good sightlines. “We always want the tellers to have a good view of the door for security reasons.” He also notes that the most challenging aspect of a bank project is coordinating those who contribute to the build—not only the standard array of electrical, mechanical, and plumbing contractors but also the vault manufacturers, security vendors, ATM companies, and more.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the firm’s rebranding process was the schedule; Vallance and his team boiled down Huntington’s construction schedule to a timeframe that many other facility managers would only be able to scratch their heads at. By developing robust partnerships with all the primary contractors needed to prep the bank’s newer in-store locations within Giant Eagle and Meijer stores, Vallance was able to boast a seven-day schedule for construction at each mini branch. “That’s from the time we take possession of a location until the time we open,” he says.
That aggressive schedule includes outfitting the space with the usual amenities—carpet, furniture, etc.—as well as setting up ATM operations, accounting for any vault requirements, and getting occupancy approval. Vallance is ready for it all. “It can be a challenge to also coordinate the inspections that go along with opening up a branch,” he says, “but we have it down to a science at this point.”
The before-and-after photos of Huntington’s Avery Road location in Dublin, OH, showcase the bank’s rebranding changes.
Meet Jason Vallance
Where did you go to school?
I’m actually still going to school. I spent six years in the Air Force and started in there with community college. My focus was on air-crew management.
What was your first construction job?
I was a project manager on the Delaware Department of Transportation I-95 Corridor. I oversaw the installation of the E-ZPass project.
How did you wind up working for Huntington?
I used to work for Citizens Bank, which was headquartered out of Providence, Rhode Island, and our CEO, Steve Steinour, was at that same bank. He came over to Huntington in February, 2009, and then some of his executives also came over from Citizens. I followed them from Rhode Island to Columbus, Ohio, because I knew we could build something special here.
What personal goals do you have in your current role?
I would say that my goals are all team goals. I’m very fortunate to have a fantastic facilities-management team; we’re pushing the envelope. We’re best-in-class, and I think our seven-day construction schedule for new stores is an indicator of that. Continuing to strive to be best-in-class is my personal goal, but it relates to the team as well.