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Staying centralized helps California bank build a solid relationship with customers

With almost 5,000 offices statewide, most California banks have aggressive plans to add to that hefty figure. A two-year-old bank, however, has no such notion.

''We do not intend to branch,'' declares Harold A. Fick, president of Borel Bank & Trust Company, with $25 million in assets. ''The more branches we get, the more managers I need and the further away we get from the concept I'm trying to implement.''

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Mr. Fick points to the ''tremendous turnover'' in managers among San Mateo's 23 other banking offices. ''Thus, it's not possible for customers to establish a solid banking relationship,'' he says.

''I was born in this town and so was my dad,'' adds Mr. Fick. ''My great-grandparents came here in 1860. My brother (Ronald, who is vice-president and corporate secretary) runs the trust department and my senior officers all live in the area. What we're trying to do is bring a little continuity into the management end of banking.

''We're not a retail bank and we're not a business bank. Our only specializations are that we are not specialized. In short, we're an old-fashioned community bank and our business is growing essentially through word of mouth.''

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