On bluffs high above the Mississippi River near the western-most point of Illinois sits the city of Quincy, population 40,000. With a healthy, diverse economy, impressive architecture from its rich 190-year history, and the fact that it is just a nice place to live may be reasons why the

“Gem City” has been twice recognized as an All-American City by the National Civic League.

The Mercantile Trust & Savings Bank has been present in the Quincy economy for more than 100 years. Founded in 1906, Mercan-tile survived a major fire in 1922 and then the Great Depression to emerge as a cornerstone lender and community supporter. It also is the largest affiliate of Mercantile Bancorp Inc., a Quincy-based, publicly traded bank holding company formed in 1983 with commu-nity bank investments in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Georgia and Florida, plus minority investments in 11 community banks in Mis-souri, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, California, North Carolina and Tennessee. It manages assets in excess of $1 billion and more than 300 employees.

Since multibranch banking developed in the 1960s and ’70s, Mercantile Trust & Savings Bank has grown to six locations in Quincy. But as this community bank begins its second century of service, it has come to need greater efficiency and better customer service than its current multibuilding operation can support.

“We have grown to the point where our current facilities will no longer be sufficient for the future,” said Ted T. Awerkamp, president and CEO of Mercantile Trust & Savings Bank. “Our banking operations are located at several different sites around Quincy. Existing cus-tomer facilities, while adequate, no longer offer the levels of convenience and comfort we would like to provide.”

In September 2006, construction began on Mercantile’s new $12.4 million corporate headquarters in Quincy.

“The new headquarters should yield improvements in operating efficiency,” Awerkamp said. “We will be able to consolidate lending per-sonnel, currently located in three different buildings, into a central location. That should improve customer service and allow us to make more efficient use of our staff. We should also be able to reduce some of our current occupancy costs by consolidating operations and elimi-nating two locations.”

The new 48,000-square-foot building sits on a four-plus-acre site. Scheduled to open around the end of this year, the new bank will have a spacious lobby with LED video screens to serve as a greeting area and the retail transaction center, six drive-up lanes with two-way video screens that will be protected from the weather, and a large customer parking lot. The building will initially have two floors for servicing customers, but the design permits the complete addition of another floor at some future point. The new facility will also incorporate the latest technological capabilities for Mercantile Bancorp’s lead bank and holding company operations.

Brown Electric serves as partner

Another established Quincy business is Brown Electric Construction Co. It was founded by Arthur W. Brown, who began working in Quincy in 1918 as an electrician. His son, George, joined him a decade later. A year after that, in 1929, Arthur partially bought out their employer, and in 1945, Arthur and George started their own partnership as A.W. Brown and Son. George’s son, Donald, joined the trade in 1953, and he became president and owner in 1977 when George retired.

The current owner and president, Lonnie R. Nuttelman, an electrical engineer, joined the company in 1977 as an estimator and pro-ject manager. Nuttleman became part owner and secretary-treasurer of Brown Electric Construction Co. in 1988 and sole owner in 2000. His son, Nathan, who has a bachelor’s degree in construction science, joined the company in 2000 as a project manager, making the company’s history span five generations of two families.

Brown Electric bid on and won the electrical contract for the new Mercantile Bank headquarters from Clayco Inc., which Mercan-tile had selected to design/build the project. Clayco is based in St. Louis and has full-service offices in Chicago and Detroit. It provides turnkey services nationwide. It is one of the nation’s largest privately owned real estate, architecture and engineering, design/build and construction firms.

The new Mercantile facility is the first project on which Brown Electric has partnered with Clayco, and as with any relationship, there has been a time of the two firms getting to know each other. But the response has been positive on both sides.

Pipe and wire and more

“This is a good old pipe-and-wire job,” said Lon Nuttelman of the new Mercantile headquarters. It will receive 1,200 amps of electrical service at 480 volts and is set up for a backup generator to be installed to operate the entire facility at 100 percent capacity should power fail. As an energy-saving feature, nearly all of the light switches are controlled by occupancy sensors.

“The whole building only has three or four light switches,” Nuttleman said.

Brown Electric is also installing the low-voltage systems. “We don’t have the luxury of being a narrow-focused company,” Nuttle-man said. “We do everything, including new construction, service truck work, conduit, industrial, fire and burglar alarms, fiber optics, data.” Brown Electric typically has about 35 electricians on staff, but its ranks can range from about 30 to 50 electricians, depending on the workload and projects at hand.

In addition to project managing, Nathan Nuttelman oversees the low-voltage portion of the company’s business. The Mercantile telecommunications system will use a main distribution frame on the ground floor, which will connect with six-strand multimode fiber optic cables in inner ductwork to each of the two intermediate distribution frames on the upper two floors of the bank. Since the bank will use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for its telephone service, there are no copper backbones between the telecommuni-cations rooms.

For the 195 horizontal cable runs, Brown will install Comm-Scope’s Media 6 Category 6 unshielded twisted pair cable. The copper and fiber runs all will terminate to Panduit devices, including Category 6 jacks and rack-mounted patch panels for the cop-per and LC-style fiber connectors and fiber patch panels. Caddy will support the cable runs throughout the bank on J-hooks.

Nuttleman’s team also will install an Edwards Signaling & Security Systems (part of GE Security) fire alarm system. Brown electri-cians will install the cable and the alarm devices, after which the Edwards field representatives will program and certify the system.

Brown Electric Construction Co.’s quality work pays off. “Brown Electric is a great company, and we enjoy working with them,” said Julie Bowen, assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Mercantile Trust & Savings Bank.

When the Mercantile Bank opens the doors of its new headquarters in 2008, the bank, Brown Electric and the community of Quincy will reach another milestone in their shared history of nearly 100 years together, which will be highly visible for all to see for decades to come.

MUNYAN is a freelance writer in the Kansas City, Kan., area, specializing in business writing and telecommunications. He can be reached at www.russwrites.com.