While community banks already have a reputation for friendly tellers and personal service, one franchise that goes above and beyond to provide more meaningful services both in and out of the branch is Gulf Coast Bank.
Locally owned and operated, the bank was founded in 1971 by Charles Patout. Today, Charles’s sons, Paul, Bank President and CEO, and Patrick, Chairman of the Board, continue what their father began, a legacy of customer service.
With nine locations, including Delcambre, the banks service customers in Vermilion, Iberia and Lafayette parishes, guided by a philosophy of “earning” customer business.
In fact, Gulf Coast Bank is best defined by its mission that says (in part): No line of financial service is beyond our charter… “There’s nothing outside of our scope – nothing too big,” says Jan Davis, Delcambre branch manager and loan officer. “We furnish everything the big banks offer.” What sets this one apart from others, she says, is the customer service and community involvement.
“Giving back to the communities was a priority for my father,” confirms Paul Patout, who is officed at the main branch in Abbeville. “I think Gulf Coast Bank continues that tradition; both Pat and I encourage service to our staff and giving back to the communities in Acadiana.
Engagement Specialist Amanda Burleigh spends time at all branch locations and says it’s a common occurrence to see an employee helping a customer, whether it’s balancing a checkbook, informing them of a new service line, or educating them on new technology. “We’ve most recently revamped our mobile app, making us contenders with the larger banks, and we’re showing several of our customers how to take advantage of this convenience,” she says.
Reaching out to customers and building relationships is not restricted by age or the confines of the bank. As Davis points out, “We have helped our older customers and students learn about credit and checking accounts. I’ve spoken to high school financial classes and to South Louisiana Community College students about the importance of establishing good credit. I’ve even read to 2nd graders about savings accounts.”
Other meaningful services outside of the bank involve endless hours of volunteer work, donations and event sponsorships to make sure communities are thriving. “You’ll be hard pressed to find an organization that our bank doesn’t support,” says Burleigh. “We try to do more than just write a check, like volunteering at the Delcambre Shrimp Festival or Acadian Village at Christmastime. From helping local athletic organizations and fundraising for programs like Project Graduation in Delcambre, to aiding the local fire department and the Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana, we’re involved in some capacity or another.” (In fact, the bank is conducting its largest fundraiser for Boys and Girls Club, its Friendraiser, March 6 through April 28.)
After Hurricane Rita flooded Delcambre and the surrounding area, the priority was helping residents and businesses get back on their feet. “Our Senior Vice President, Jason Patout, was running generators to make sure all the branches were open so customers could have access to their money,” recalls Burleigh.
A top SBA lender in the state, Gulf Coast Bank played a vital role during the pandemic, offering Paycheck Protection Program loans to cover the payrolls of qualifying businesses that were forced to close.
This is a bank where a fisherman can come straight off the boat, from a week on the Gulf, for his banking needs and pop into the the president’s office to catch up on life, family and the local economy. It is the bank that was named Business of the Year in 2019 by the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce and Benefactor of the Year by South Louisiana Community College in 2020.
For its employees, the reward is more personal. Davis, who grew up in Erath, speaks for others when she says,” It’s satisfying to help a community grow.”