St. Louis Small Business Monthly, an editorial on strategy, management and innovation for St. Louis-area entrepreneurs and business owners, recently listed the Bank of Washington as one of “The Best Banks” in the St. Louis Region for the sixth year in a row.

The award was published in May 2020 and was voted on by the readers of Small Business Monthly.

“We are incredibly honored to be consistently featured as a Best Bank for Small Businesses in the St. Louis Region,” stated Bank of Washington President Louis B. “Buzz” Eckelkamp, III.

Eckelkamp said that the bank’s strong relationships with its customers have always been a key differentiator, and through COVID and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, it was even more evident how important those relationships are for both the bank and the customer.

“Knowing our customers well, taking the time to learn and understand their businesses, how they operate, and more, helped us to confidently prepare nearly 400 PPP loans totaling nearly $71 million even as the overall program guidance was still fairly raw,” he said. “If there was ever an example of how important the banker and customer relationship is, the PPP loan process would be it. We feel honored to help get this much-needed funding into the hands of these business owners.”

Within the 400 PPP loans, the bank also helped noncustomers.

“We received an incredible amount of applications from noncustomers as well because they could not get in touch with their primary bank relationship officer,” said Eckelkamp.  “Because of our attention to the details, having a solid process in place, and the availability, accessibility and knowledge of our lenders, we were able to help these businesses, too. We hope to develop deeper relationships with many of these new customers and provide them with even more tools to help them in the future.”

Eckelkamp added that focusing on relationships has been and will continue to be the foundation of how they operate.

“Our pledge to our business customers has always been that we will take the time to listen, have honest and clear communication, be friendly and helpful, treat them like a partner, not an account, and focus on what will help them, not on what to sell them,” he said.

Eckelkamp said the bank is strong when it comes to small business and commercial lending, ranking at No. 16 in the 2020 St. Louis Business Journal’s list of largest commercial lenders.

Additionally, the Bank of Washington has the technology to make banking convenient such as a business banking app, a strong suite of cash management products including remote deposit capture, merchant credit card machines and fraud prevention services such as positive pay, he said.

The bank offers free business checking with the ability to add on ACH payments, online banking, online bill pay and more.

The Bank of Washington is the oldest and largest community bank in Franklin County, serving the community for more than 140 years. The bank has six branch locations and, since COVID, has extended drive-thru hours at its Fifth Street and Fourteenth Street branch to be open on weeknights until 7 p.m., and extended hours on Saturdays and Sundays as well.

The Bank of Washington also has been consistently voted the No. 1 bank and mortgage lender in the Washington Missourian Readers’ Choice Awards.