NOKOMIS — Members of the Montgomery County CEO (MCCEO) Class of 2021 split their time visiting two businesses in downtown Nokomis on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
One group gathered at Ugly Mugs Coffeehouse, owned by Tim and Ann Brookshire. Points of discussion during the session included various topics of seeing potential in the impossible. The Brookshires purchased the building at 125 W. Main Street “as is” and renovated it into a first-level business, which houses Ugly Mugs as well as an upstairs apartment.
The team also noted the merchandise displays throughout the store based on retail partnerships with local vendors. MCCEO collaborated with Ugly Mugs in December for their COVID Christmas pop-up shop during Downtown Nokomis Association’s “Christmas in Nokomis” celebration, which was scaled down from its usual festivities due to the pandemic.
The team also learned that there is a refining lens with which to see marketing and products as each member embarks on their personal businesses. This includes items like sign placement, product displays, pricing and reviews on customer satisfaction.
Meanwhile, another group convened at First National Bank of Nokomis, meeting with key staff members, including bank President Steve Johnson. Topics of discussion included opening a business checking account, understanding the basics of banking, and an ongoing discussion of interest rates and investment strategies.
The team took notes in their “Rocketbooks,” sharing them in real-time while discussing their take-aways from the visit.
The history of the bank is also notable. Founded and chartered in August 1940, First National Bank operated in the eastern half of the lobby. In 1956, its operating space doubled in size as a result of a remodel. Its face was covered in green marble and gold-colored metal with an awning running across the entire building width. In 1964, they added their office wing on the west side, as well as the drive-through lanes. Two decades later, in 1984, the bank received another facelift, with the facade covered in brick and stone, and the awning removed. They added the eastern office wing and the upstairs board room in 1998.
The bank would be acquired by First Nokomis Bankcorp, Inc. in September 1987, ensuring that it can and will remain a community bank under local control. The parent company would make a series of acquisitions over time, expanding their footprint in local communities.
The first acquisition, in 1996, was Moweaqua’s Ayars State Bank, a staple in the community since 1900. It was merged into the company four years later, renamed Ayars Bank.
First Nokomis Bankcorp, Inc. purchased a former Central Illinois Bank in Arthur from CIB Marine Bancshares in 2006, ultimately naming it the First National Bank of Arthur.
The company’s most recent acquisition came in 2016 when they acquired Illini Bank’s Stonington location, later renamed Stonington National Bank.
Throughout the entire operation, there are roughly 36 full-time employees with the bank across four locations, as they continue their commitment to goals of increasing capital and the bank’s future sustainability, allowing for growth and additional services.
During this visit, members of the class also stopped at Dawsen Loafman’s business Loafman Detailing. Loafman is working on marketing tools to add a sign over the back entrance, which would be easily visible and accessible where bank customers routinely drive by via the bank’s drive-through lanes.This story was previously published in the February 17, 2021 print edition of the Free Press-Progress.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.