PITTSBURG — Two Girard banks founded over a century ago — also the two oldest banks in Crawford County — officially merged on Tuesday, April 2.

First National Bank of Girard, founded in 1878, will now operate as a branch of GNBank, which was formerly known as Girard National Bank and founded in 1918.

Mark Schifferdecker, GNBank President & CEO, said the company decided to change its name last summer, after marking its 100 year anniversary in February 2018, because the name was becoming confusing to customers.

“We decided to rebrand,” Schifferdecker said.

In 2015, the company acquired University Bank, with locations in Pittsburg, Arma and Galena that are now GNBank branches.

“We are very excited to join these two long-term banking organizations together,” Schifferdecker, said of the latest merger with First National Bank of Girard in a news release. “We share a common philosophy to retain local leadership and dedicated, high quality employees, be approachable, do the right thing, and treat customers and fellow employees like family.”

First National Bank of Girard President John Lehman also spoke in support of the merger, according to the release.

“This merger allows our customers to continue to be served by a locally owned and operated bank, with the same personalized, high quality service they have always received at The First National Bank,” Lehman said.

First National Bank of Girard customers “should notice no changes in their accounts or services,” according to the release.

“That will be one advantage for their customers as this gets fully integrated is that they’ll be able to take advantage of our other branches and ATMs and other services,” said Schifferdecker.

The bank also has plans “to complete a data conversion in December, which will allow customers to enjoy a wider range of banking services that GNBank offers,” according to its release.

GNBank is family-owned, “with expertise in agricultural, commercial, small business, residential real estate and consumer services,” and 12 locations in Kansas, in Arma, Bucklin, Clay Center, Galena, Girard, Hiawatha, Holton, Horton, Offerle, Pittsburg, Wetmore and Yates Center. The bank also has two locations in southeastern Colorado, in Eads and Lamar.

As of last fall, GNBank had approximately $635 million in assets while First National Bank had approximately $80 million. The Morning Sun reported at that time that an important consideration in the bank merger process was competition law, which Schifferdecker said GNBank had studied carefully.

“It was one of the very first things we checked on,” Schifferdecker said. “The federal regulators look at competitiveness factors very carefully in the city, the county and the entire region. If we were in a smaller county out in western Kansas it might be different, but Crawford County and even Girard have quite a few financial institutions.”

GNBank is hosting an Open House at its new branch, formerly First National Bank of Girard’s location at 205 S. Summit St. in Girard, during business hours, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Friday, April 5.