The Wells Fargo Bank executive who oversees Kansas said the bank likely will increase its branch staffing by 20 percent this year.
Kirk Kellner, Wells Fargo regional president of Nebraska and Kansas, said that includes five additional bank positions in Wichita.
"We usually staff more people in the stores than I've seen in the Kansas Wachovia stores," said Kellner, who has worked for the bank since 1981.
"Stores" is the term Kellner uses to describe Wells Fargo branches.
In some ways, the term also reflects the San Francisco-based company's customer-centric approach to banking.
In December 2008 Wells Fargo closed on its acquisition of troubled Wachovia Bank, which operates two branches in Wichita — 455 S. West St. and 6321 E. Central — and six others in the state.
Wells Fargo recently announced it would convert the Kansas Wachovia branches to Wells Fargo this year as part of a branch conversion process that is expected to occur into 2011.
An exact date for the Kansas conversion has not been announced.
Kellner said Wells Fargo focuses equally on commercial and consumer banking. Everything it does, he said, is done with the customer in mind.
"Every time we make a decision we ask, 'How is this going to affect customers?' " he said. "If customers are in the middle of all your decisions, then you can have a successful integration."
Kellner said that right now, it's his job to ensure that the conversion in Kansas happens without any problems.
He's been to Wichita twice and plans another visit soon.
So far, his Wichita itinerary consists of meeting with bank employees as well as customers.
"My major focus is to spend some time with team members to get an understanding of what they need," Kellner said. "That's where I spend most of my time now."
He said he likes to drive around Wichita to "get a feel for the city. We try to look at what the opportunities are."
Under the bank's structure, the Kansas market is overseen daily by Jim Erickson, a district manager based in the Kansas City area. Branch, or store, managers report directly to Erickson, who in turn reports to Kellner.
Kellner said the Wichita market is similar to Lincoln and Omaha, were he is based. He was born in Omaha.
He characterized Wichita as a market that offers the bank "nice, steady growth."
But he's not ready to say that the bank has expansion plans here or in its other Kansas markets.
"We're always looking for opportunities to grow in the markets we're in," he said.
But right now the focus is on the conversion. "We don't want to dilute that."