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Sunday, May 26, 2024

What does banking, the Bible, and biking have in common: Thomas Claiborne

If Thomas Claiborne searched the Bible app downloaded on his smartphone, he might stumble onto the verse that describes him to a T.

“To every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:)

Claiborne, branch manager of Chesapeake Bank’s Lafayette branch in Williamsburg, has created a life filled with varied passions and pursuits. He loves motorcycles — he owns an Aprilia Dorsoduro– and holds bible study groups for teens at his home.

Perhaps Claiborne’s greatest passion is helping people mend and grow their financial lives. That’s what drew him to Chesapeake Bank.

“Interacting with people is what I love most,” says Claiborne, 45. “No matter how technologically advanced Chesapeake Bank becomes, I don’t think we’ll ever lose that personal element.”

As branch manager, Claiborne’s days are always different. One recent Friday morning, a couple of tellers called out sick, so Claiborne pitched in and helped working folks cash their checks a few days before Mother’s Day.

Later that day, he prepared to close a small loan for a couple helping their child buy a car.

Other days, Claiborne advises seniors on ways to stretch their fixed income and helps people saddled with bills consolidate debt.

“We had a Vietnam military veteran struggling to make ends meet, making only the minimum payments on his credit cards. We found a way to consolidate payments that saved him $200 a month,” Claiborne says, a way to thank the vet for his service and his business.

Claiborne comes from a military family. His father was an air force senior master sergeant who moved the family from California to Indiana to Virginia.

“I came from a structured childhood, where there was no question about right and wrong,” Claiborne says.

That childhood and the life he and wife Tanya have built for their two children stand a universe away from the first job Claiborne held out of college: juvenile correctional officer at the Hanover Juvenile Correctional Center in Hanover, Va.

“I saw kids leave, and in three weeks they’d be back because Hanover was the closest thing they had to family,” Claiborne says.

Claiborne lasted only a year in the Hanover job — “I wanted to go in there and make a change; instead I felt I was being changed more. I was becoming less of what I was.”

Claiborne next worked for a car rental company, and then for a large bank. He moved to Chesapeake Bank two years ago.

“At Chesapeake Bank, I saw a business that focused more on community and personal interaction,” Claiborne says. “We thrive on personal contact. When your credit card doesn’t work, or something looks wrong on your account, you want to talk to a real person.”

In fact, a real person, not a prerecorded voice, answered a recent call to Chesapeake Bank.

“That’s a niche we understand. We put the community back into community banking,” Claiborne says.

On June 21, the Chesapeake Bank Lafayette branch is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an open invitation luncheon.

Says Claiborne, “It’s a celebration to thank our customers for helping us become such a large and vital part of their community.”

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