Ridgway native helping with innovative approach to banking

Ridgway native Michael Aiello has used life lessons growing up here to enhance and help people in his career.Aiello is currently a part of ERIEBANK, recently taking on a new position at the bank as a commercial lender. He is a 2000 graduate of St. Leo School and a 2004 graduate of Elk County Catholic High School. He graduated from Mercyhurst College in 2008. While at Mercyhurst, Aiello said he had an opportunity to work at the Northwest Savings Bank branch in Ridgway. "While attending college at Mercyhurst College in Erie, I worked during the summers after my sophomore and junior year at Northwest Savings Bank on Main Street in Ridgway," Aiello said. "I worked as a teller for NWSB for two summers, holidays, and any other college breaks. The manager at NWSB, Kevin Oknefski, encouraged me upon finishing college to apply for a manager trainee position at the bank. Upon graduating from Mercyhurst in 2008 with a degree in Business Finance, I applied at a number of financial institutions in Erie County."Upon graduating from Mercyhurst, Aiello wanted to remain in the Erie area and had his chance with ERIEBANK. "ERIEBANK is a division of CNB Bank out of Clearfield and began to establish themselves in December of 2005 in Erie," Aiello said. "Upon interviewing with them while finishing up my spring term in 2008, they did not have any openings. Wanting to remain in Erie upon graduation, I continued to work at a small sheet metal plant in Erie while I applied for jobs and received interview opportunities. Just 21 days after my graduation, I received a second interview from ERIEBANK, and the following day I received a phone call offering me a position as a universal associate. I started training the following day."Aiello became a commerical lender with ERIEBANK on Jan. 3. He described the modern banking techniques ERIEBANK uses."ERIEBANK is not your traditional style bank; they have gone with a more modern banking concept," Aiello said. "They do not have tellers or customer service representatives. As a universal associate, I opened personal/business accounts, worked on small personal loans, approved credit cards, and helped the customers fill out mortgage applications. There is no teller line or teller windows. The universal associates have large pods for the customers to walk up to or sit at. It is a very welcoming environment for the customers. The idea is that any customer's request that comes through that door, should be able to be handled by a universal associate. That way, the customer does not have to wait for a manager. "As of January 3, I began my new position at the bank as a commercial lender. I will be training and working with the commercial lenders at the bank on assisting our business customers with their banking needs," Aiello said. "This is a great opportunity to work with small businesses of Erie County on their lending needs." In addition to his work with ERIEBANK, Aiello is the umpire coordinator for three baseball leagues for the Millcreek Youth Athletic Association (MYAA). "They approached me to run for an open position on their board," Aiello said. "Some of the board members knew me from seeing me referee or umpire PIAA basketball or baseball games in Erie County. I have been certified by the PIAA for seven years in basketball and four years in baseball. They thought with my experience in refereeing and umpiring, I would be a good fit to be their umpire coordinator for baseball. This is a very strong volunteer organization for years, so kids can enjoy baseball, softball, basketball, and football. I am also the treasurer/secretary of the Erie County Baseball Umpire's Chapter."Aiello went into greater detail about being able to help younger umpires get a start into the craft."As umpire coordinator, I am responsible for three baseball leagues for MYAA, the minor, major, and junior leagues, consisting of 9-10 and 11-12 and 13-14 year olds," Aiello said. "I conduct an umpire clinic before the season for anyone who wants to umpire those three leagues during May, June, and July season. I choose a scheduler for each of those leagues to help me schedule umpires throughout the season and work with them on a weekly basis. I evaluate the umpires, and handle any on-the-field issues with the umpires and coaches. The umpires are mostly kids from ages 11-20, and they get paid to umpire. A nice way for the kids to help out and give back to a league that has given them year-round organized sports."Aiello said he has a number of family influences in Ridgway who have helped him get to where he is today. "Both my grandfathers have been big influences of my life," Aiello said. "My Papa John Urmann started and ran Valley Coal & Supply in Brandy Camp for many years, before selling it. While my Grandpa Joseph Aiello started Aiello Cafe in Ridgway, which is still going today because of his younger brother. Their hard work and determination to start their own business has given me real-life stories of success and struggles. Also my parents, Mike and Christi Aiello, have been a huge influence in my life. They have always remained in my life on a daily basis, supporting me and encouraging me to be the best I can be, while passing my success and experience onto others."He does come back to the area throughout the year for various activities, which include hunting and spending the holidays with family. "I visit my family and the Elk County area throughout the year for holidays, hunting, and an annual canoe trip down the Clarion River," Aiello said. "I love to get back to the area and enjoy the outdoors. I also cannot stay away from Aiello Cafe and their "Godfather" sandwich, perfected by Aunt Rosa."Growing up in Ridgway has provided Aiello with lessons he uses in his current job. "Absolutely I have, for sure. I use them everyday at ERIEBANK, by getting to know the customers on a first-name basis," Aiello said. "ERIEBANK is in the City of Erie, but drives itself on a small community bank image. Growing up in a small town like Ridgway gives you the attitude to work hard and remain loyal to your family and employer. ERIEBANK is trying to do that in a much larger community, and having a great deal of success at it too. I enjoy working for an institution that treats their customers like family, because that is how my parents brought me up - help out when you are least expected to help out. I am extremely happy with my success at ERIEBANK in my first 2.5 years."