American Founders Bank to close one branch, sell another

American Founders Bank is closing its Southland Drive branch and selling another in Shelbyville as the Lexington company looks to focus more on business customers and better embrace technology.

CEO Barry Brauch said the company's lease on the Southland Drive branch ends Nov. 1 and that closing it made sense because the customers using that branch tend to also use the company's three others in downtown, Tates Creek and Palomar. The bank also has branches in Louisville.

"It will allow us to reduce expenses, and that allows us to invest in our online banking with a new look and feel," Brauch said.

All of the branch's employees are taking on other roles in the company, he said.

In Shelbyville, the bank is selling its branch to MainSource Bank in a deal that's expected to close by the end of the year. The deal follows a similar one in 2009 in which the company sold its branches in Frankfort and Lawrenceburg, Brauch said.

"The focus of American Founders Bank is to be a sophisticated provider of credit to businesses and small businesses and the individuals associated with those businesses," Brauch said. "The business side of our bank has really been our key driver, and that business is much more prevalent in the metropolitan markets of Lexington and Louisville."

AFB recently launched a courier service for commercial customers and has revamped its Web site, bolstering its online banking services.

Lexington banking expert Don Mullineaux said the moves are similar to steps taken by banks nationally to close branches.

"Traffic through branches is dropping dramatically around the country as people turn more and more to electronics," said Mullineaux, professor of banking and financial services at the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics. "The branches don't seem to be playing the same role as a revenue generator as they have historically.

"I don't know that we'll see other banks in our market doing it, but it wouldn't surprise me if we did."