News Column

People before Profits

Mar 7 2013 12:00AM



ST. BONAVENTURE, NEW YORK -- (Marketwire) -- 03/07/13 -- Being featured in a lengthy New York Times article and on the CBS Evening News is enough to swell the head of any small-town businessman. However, celebrity is an uncomfortable fit on Patrick Cullen, a graduate of the St. Bonaventure Business Program. The trouble with the spotlight, says the 1969 graduate, is that everyone else is left in the shadows.

For the past 30 years, Cullen has been chief executive officer of the Bank of Cattaraugus in Cattaraugus, N.Y., a small village about halfway between Olean and Buffalo. He obtained his business degree in New York and proceeded to succeed his father, the late L.E. Cullen, who was an officer with the bank for 46 years. Cullen agrees, like it or not, that his tiny family-run bank, with no branch offices and eight employees, is unique. Its roots go back 130 years, making it one of the oldest banks in the state.

By asset size, it is the state's smallest bank. It's not size alone that sets his bank apart. What attracts attention is the bank's people-before-profits philosophy. The bank made only $5,000 in 2011, and over the past 40 years its annual net profit has been about $23,000.

The lessons he learned growing up in a small town were only reinforced by his Bonaventure education through the Business Graduate Program. "When I went to St. Bonaventure in the fall of 1966 I stopped in the chapel in Devereux Hall (now Garret Theater)," said Cullen. "Fr. Gervase White was saying Mass, and he gave about a 20-second sermon that I'll never forget. It turned me right around. He essentially said that above all else, no matter what, be positive, helpful, supportive and a good person, and you'll always be happy."

Cullen believes there is something transforming and transcendent in the Franciscan spirit on campus. "You can't look at The Heart across the valley or walk down to The Grotto and stand there for more than five seconds without feeling it," he said. "You may not be able to articulate it, but you have that feeling."

Inspired for more than 150 years by the Catholic Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness and service, Bonaventure education cultivates graduates from the St. Bonaventure Business Program into confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others and the diverse world around them.

St. Bonaventure

Source: Marketwire

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