Kevin O'Connor has been CEO of BNB Bank for a decade (Photo by Bob Giglione).

When Dime Community Bank and BNB Bank announced their merger last week, at the heart of the deal it’s relationships that executives have in mind, not just the bottom line.

Dime, based in Brooklyn, had been more of a family lender with branches mostly in New York City, while Bridgehampton-headquartered BNB does more commercial banking in Nassau and Suffolk counties. When they blend their balance sheets under the Dime brand with a new headquarters in Hauppauge, together they’ll account for one in five deposits in the greater Long Island area. The merger will allow the new and improved Dime to better serve customers big and small.

“The transactions that have occurred over the years have been local banks purchased by out-of-state banks, so you’ve lost that hometown feel,” said BNB President and CEO Kevin O’Connor, who will be CEO of the merged bank. “This is an opportunity for two local banks to get together to create scale without having that happen.”

The Dime and BNB leadership has a relationship that predates the merger. Stuart Lebow, president of Dime, sold his previously company, Community National Bank, to BNB in 2015, mid-way through O’Connor’s tenure as head of the East End financial institution.

“We truly are a commercial bank, relationship-based, service-oriented community bank, just as BNB is,” said Lebow, noting that the two have similar culture and values. “Which makes it a merger that just makes sense. You’ve got two $6 billion or so community commercial banks merging together where one plus one equals three.”

Known as a merger of equals, or MOE for short, as the two banks are about the same size, the company will include the best talent of each bank when the $489 million deal closes in early 2021. That includes a deep bench from Dime, founded 156 years ago, and BNB, where O’Connor has been recruiting rainmakers since he became CEO in 2008.

“When I go to visit potential customers, I don’t ask who their bank is, I ask who their banker is,” he previously told the Press. “If they do know and like that person I try to go meet them and see if they’re happy where they are. We aggressively pursue good bankers to hire and build businesses around them.”

The result is banking customers can count on.

Related Story: Dime Community Bank Merging With BNB Bank 

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