You might say that Stacey Crabtree was recruited into the banking business at a very young age. When she was just a teenager, a bank vice president was already aware of Crabtree’s work ethic and people skills. The vice president told this budding banker, “Someday you’re going to work for me.”
That same bank official hired Crabtree as a teller after her high school graduation. Today, after 28 years in the banking industry, Crabtree is director of the Classic Club at Metcalf Bank in Lee’s
Born: Kansas City, Missouri
“During those many years, there was time off for having children and some part-time assignments,” said Crabtree. “In fact, when I first started in a travel program in 2002, I thought I could do it part time, but it snowballed so fast we had to make a decision in my family, and it was agreed that I should devote myself full time.
“I was lucky that my husband realized I loved the work, and I’m also lucky that the bank president, Tom Jackson, was so enthusiastic about the program that he didn’t want me to have any other responsibilities.”
Jackson was so impressed with Crabtree’s success that in early 2006, when he moved to Metcalf Bank, he asked her to join him.
“Metcalf’s holding company, Central Bancompany, that has banks in Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri, had already enjoyed much success with Classic Clubs. They even own a travel agency that is extremely helpful in assisting their many loyalty programs,” said Crabtree.
“I hear about failing programs and ones that are not highly appreciated. That certainly is not the case here. It’s exciting to know that everyone believes in this program. Our goal is to give the best product to the customer.”
Born to lead
Crabtree spent many years in a variety of banking positions, but it seems she was destined to lead a travel program. After she married her husband, Philip, now her ex-husband but still a good friend, they spent their honeymoon on an eight-week tour of New York and Europe.
“Once you do that, it’s in your blood,” she said. “Traveling is infectious. I like a quote from St. Augustine: ‘The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.’”
Crabtree was also involved in all sorts of public and private service while raising her two children: Katie, 19, and Zach, 14. “I loved hosting auctions and organizing fundraisers for their Christian school, not knowing that it was a proper training ground for leading a loyalty program. I can’t do those volunteer things now that I work full time, and, honestly, I do miss it,” she said.
Crabtree said she grew up with many seniors in her own family and has always loved their company. “For me, this job is not just about the travel — and I admit time and time again that seeing the world is so important to me — but it’s also about the people. Today, I get to watch people make new friends, grow, get connected, come out of their shell and travel. What a job!”
Crabtree’s Classic Club enjoys many day trips and overnight excursions throughout the year. They also sell out at least three annual extended tours.
“Our group is crazy about cruises, and they still talk about a Mediterranean cruise that opened our eyes to ports in Italy, France and Greece,” she said. “While we may have enjoyed so many incredible sights, the message that you only have to pack and unpack once comes out loud and clear.”
The Classic Club also offers monthly coffees with guest speakers who share their expertise in such wide-ranging subjects as healthy cooking, the benefits of laughter and financial planning.
A wealth of helping hands
Some fellow bank directors might be a bit envious of Crabtree’s position at Metcalf Bank. She not only enjoys the services of the in-house travel agency, which often handles the tedious travel details, but she also has a full-time assistant.
“I know that I’m blessed to have management that feels if you want to do a job well, you have to dedicate yourself completely. But they are also aware of the money that the Classic Club represents,” said Crabtree.
“There is a bank on every corner, for goodness’ sake, and you have to offer something different and something outstanding. Starting from the top, our service standards have to be above the best. We are expected to exceed expectations at every opportunity.”
Crabtree’s support includes her extended family. “When I’m gone, I depend on Philip and my folks to take care of my kids. I’ve always told my children that when I’m away on our trips, that if they look at the moon, to know that no matter where I am, we’re all looking at the same moon.
“That comforting thought has always been helpful when it comes to my job,” she said.
Looking at the moon has always been a favorite pastime for Crabtree, and she does it often, even when her head is on her pillow at her home in Lake Winnebago, a small suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. She described the view from her window and her view of the world: “I can see the moonlight shimmering on the water. It sort of represents all that I love about travel. There’s another quote I love: ‘How you look at things changes the way things look.’
“We live in a neighborhood that behaves in a way that I wish all neighborhoods would: Everyone talks to each other. There are lots of social activities, from card clubs to holiday celebrations. You always wave when you pass by, but in our case, you’re probably boating and not driving.”
Crabtree hopes to have passed along her travel-bug gene to her children. The entire extended family travels often to destinations like Florida; Galveston, Texas; and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.
“We also go on mission trips. It’s the new experiences and new cultures that open our eyes. Not everyone lives like us,” she said.