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A jolt of perseverance

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  • | 11:00 a.m. March 25, 2016
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Here's something you don't see very often: A party at a community bank to celebrate a customer paying off a loan.

But that's what happened at Preferred Community Bank in Fort Myers. In the lobby recently, staff presented its first Perseverance Award to Duane and Valerie Chamberlain, owners of All Ways Electric, an electric commercial contractor in Fort Myers.

“This is a special thing because it's a company that really got hit hard during the downturn,” says Todd Rinehart, senior vice president and senior lending officer at Preferred Community Bank.

In addition to a plaque noting their survival of the recession, Rinehart handed the Chamberlains a large manila envelope with eight promissory notes for collateral the couple pledged during the downturn to keep their business open. “I have two houses in here, trucks, vans,” Valerie Chamberlain says clutching the papers. “I gave them pretty much everything I had.”

The couple got a $280,000 loan in 2009 to buy out their partners in the business. While the recession forced them to pare back, Rinehart says the Chamberlains' regular communication with the bank helped the entrepreneurs stay in business and pay off the loan.

Rinehart advised the couple through the ordeal, sometimes breaking out the box of Kleenex. “I've been doing this for 40 years,” says the former Barnett Bank executive. “You can tell very quickly if they're sincere.”

The Chamberlains plan to celebrate with a company party by firing up the grill and bringing the bacon. “He's going to go hog hunting and hopefully he'll get two,” Valerie Chamberlain laughs.


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