Jeff Goben’s Contributions to Community Celebrated
Come next Monday, many long-time customers of Heartland Community Bank will miss the friendly smile and firm handshake of Jeff Goben, Senior Vice President of Sales & Branch Administration, when they walk into Heartland’s SR 135 location in Greenwood. The long-time banker, who is known for his open office door, his dapper pocket kerchiefs and congenially friendliness, will retire this Friday, February 7th after more than 41 years in banking. “Jeff has really been the face of Heartland Community Bank for the last 15 years,” says Steve Bechman, Market President of Heartland Community Bank. “His outgoing personality and keen business sense have allowed him to help many of our friends and neighbors over the years. I know that I will not be alone in missing his daily presence at the bank. We are fortunate that he will be staying in our community.”
Goben began his career in 1972 at the National Bank of Greenwood before leaving in 1984 to go work at Bargersville State Bank (which later became Citizens Bank). In 1992, Bargersville State Bank was acquired by CNB Bancshares, a bank holding company located in Evansville, Indiana. Although allowed to remain an independent bank, over a period of years operations departments were moved to Evansville along with many of the decisions.
The frustration with the trend of banking moving away from personal relationships was difficult for Jeff Goben and Steve Bechman. They had both spent their banking careers in smaller community banks and understood the important role a bank plays in a community.
Customers would jokingly remark to them, “Why don’t you buy a bank and run it your way”. Casual comments around the office turned into serious evening-long discussions. As a result, the two founders began plans to open a new bank with two locations in Johnson County. This was an extremely difficult decision since both founders had secure jobs with Citizens Bank, children in college, and would face the prospect of being without a paycheck for six to nine months. In April 1997, they resigned their positions and immediately formed a corporation to be the basis of the future bank. Within 60 days, founders Bechman and Goben were joined by two former co-workers from Citizens Bank and a CPA from Crowe Chizek to form the management team of the bank.
The founder’s approach to this new business venture was not typical to most new businesses. Although they had no formal mission statement, they communicated a shared vision between themselves, staff and customers. The idea was to recreate banking the way it used to be.
From day one, when they began working from the basement of Steve Bechman’s home, Goben and Bechman wanted the bank to have a family atmosphere. They wanted Heartland to be the kind of place that employees looked forward to being at every day. They also believed that the word “Community” was the most important part of their name. So they set out to develop an atmosphere that encouraged community involvement and participation among employees.
Since that time, Heartland has grown to five locations throughout Johnson County and in summer of 2012 joined the Horizon Bank family. Heartland continues to serve Central Indiana, south of Indianapolis, and has consistently been among the top deposit market share banks in Johnson County.
Goben has been active in his community throughout his time as a banker, serving as Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce President, President of both Greenwood Sertoma and Kiwanis Clubs and as a member of SS Francis & Clare Roman Catholic Church.
Goben and Bechman recently had a scholarship fund created in their honor at the Johnson County Community Foundation. To help perpetuate that attitude of selfless service to others, the ongoing scholarship will be awarded to graduating seniors from Johnson County with an outstanding record of community service. Goben will continue to be involved in the annual selection of scholarship recipients. “Students will be evaluated based on what they give back to the community — it’s not just about their grade point average,” said Goben. “That’s meaningful to both of us because that’s what we have attempted to do since day one, give back as much to our community as we possibly could.”
Friends and customers of Heartland Community Bank are invited to congratulate Goben on his retirement Feb. 11th between 4-7 pm at Dye’s Walk Country Club, 2080 S. State Road 135, Greenwood. Goben and his wife of 38 years, Miche, will continue to reside in Greenwood.