Doll leaves mark on local banking
Dennis “Denny” Doll enjoyed his career — he got to do exactly what he wanted to do.
Doll, 66, recently retired as president/CEO of Reliance Bank, where he had worked since 1995.
Doll, a Bellefonte native, graduated from Bald Eagle Area High School in 1973, as his family moved when he was in high school.
“I don’t have a college degree. I am the last of my generation to become a bank president without a college degree. I started in the financial services field out of high school doing what I always wanted to do — work in this business. I got to spend my entire career in the area I wanted to be in,” Doll said.
But Doll took career development, finance, banking, commercial lending and leadership courses from Ohio State, University of Virginia, Southern Methodist University, Vanderbilt and Harvard.
“As opposed to a general degree, my education was very specialized as related to banking and financing. Most bank presidents have a bachelor’s degree or an MBA,” Doll said.
Doll started his career making personal loans at Community Consumer in State College. After three years, he took a job at Ridge Homes in Milesburg doing commercial lending. When that business closed in the early 1980s, he took a job at Mellon Bank after he met Dick McMaster, who became a mentor. He then moved on to United Federal in State College and met another mentor, Chuck Pearson, who was CEO.
He then met Ardie J. Dillen and Bruce Hostler from Reliance Bank.
“Ardie and Bruce were influential in me coming to the bank. They wanted to put an office in State College,” Doll said.
He joined Reliance in 1995 and “the rest is history,” he said.
Doll was responsible for opening an office on North Atherton Street. Moving into the State College market was important for Reliance Bank. He started there as vice president for mortgage lending.
“Today, it is our biggest office and about half of the bank. Opening in State College was a very big strategic deal, a big change in terms of growth. I think we brought a new culture to State College that it hadn’t seen before. We built the bank by cultivating relationships, whether customers or companies or how we recruited new employees. It is the culture that drives the bank,” Doll said. “In our business, there are always questions and issues that come up and you need someone to sit down with you and work them out, you are not going to get that at some of the bigger banks but will get it from us.”
Doll moved to Hollidaysburg in 2004 and went to work in Reliance’s main office in downtown Altoona as a senior vice president. He eventually became president in 2013, and CEO in 2015.
Doll has been active in the community serving the Blair County Chamber of Commerce in many roles, including the Legislative Committee, Leadership Blair County Steering Committee and Alumni Chair, and currently serves as a trustee for Mount Aloysius College. While working in the State College area, he served on the Bellefonte Area School Board.
Chamber president/CEO Joe Hurd called Doll, who succeeded Tim Sissler as CEO in 2015, the consummate professional.
“When Tim Sissler retired, the business community readily acknowledged that there would be big shoes to fill. They needn’t have worried. With Denny, Reliance never skipped a beat,” Hurd said. “Denny has never been a guy to be concerned about maintaining a high, personal profile. He understood that the reputation of the bank and the need to operate in the best interests of the community superseded everything else. That’s tough to do.”
“Denny is one of the guys I’ve always looked up to in our community. He’s a great collaborator, always finding win-win solutions that benefit our community and everyone involved,” said Philip Devorris, president/CEO of The Blair Companies.
“His influence was keenly felt whenever we’ve worked together, from our years on the board at Mount Aloysius to the high-service local touch we enjoyed from Reliance Bank.”
Doll said he enjoyed his time at Reliance Bank.
“It was always about people,” Doll said. “We had a great team and a great group of customers.”
“The business has changed so much in
40 years, technology-wise and how you deliver services,” Doll said. “The past year, we found out we could manage our business in a remote environment. Phil Freemen led the charge on that with employees and our customers. There were days when it was challenging. We did a lot of business, we participated in PPE loans and did our part to keep our customer relationships.”
Doll said it was time to retire.
“I’ve been in this for 46 years and it is time to let someone else take over. I have four kids; I want to spend more time with them. None of them live around here. I want to stay connected to the bank (he will remain as a director) and we have a capable replacement in Phil. I am leaving with the bank in good hands,” Doll said. “I will spend part of my time in South Carolina. I have a place in Pawleys Island near Myrtle Beach. I also will play golf and do some fly fishing; they are my vices.”
Freeman was named to succeed Doll as president/CEO.
“Denny’s contribution to Reliance Bank over the past 26 years has been incredible,” Freeman said. “His connection to our community, combined with his deep knowledge of all aspects of our industry, is hard to replicate. It’s a big part of what has made this both a great place to work and a shining example of what community banking can be,” Freeman said.
“Denny will be deeply missed by all of us at Reliance Bank,” Freeman said. “He leaves behind an amazing legacy that will be tough to live up to, but with our dedicated team, I know that together, we’ll find a way.”
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.
The Doll file
Name: Dennis Doll
Position: Retired president/CEO of Reliance Bank
Education: 1973 graduate of Bald Eagle Area High School; numerous career development courses
Family: Children: Melanie, Christie, Emily and Zachary.
Quote: “I hope they remember me for my public service and the relationships and friendships I built, and hope they remember me for helping make Reliance Bank a community asset.”