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Monday, 30 January 2012 08:44

FNB of Michigan plans GR expansion

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By Mark Sanchez | MiBiz
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John Schreuder

John Schreuder, chairman and CEO of First National Bank of Michigan, said the organization plans to expand into the larger Grand Rapids market, but still offer clients a community bank feel that’s endeared it to its clientele in the Kalamazoo market.

COURTESY PHOTO

KALAMAZOO — The planned opening of a Grand Rapids office marks First National Bank of Michigan’s first foray out of its hometown Kalamazoo market.

Just as it’s done in Kalamazoo, FNB of Michigan aims to build business in the much-larger Grand Rapids market through a high-touch style of community banking aimed at small businesses and retail customers.

FNB of Michigan has always planned to enter the Grand Rapids market at some point, Chairman and CEO John Schreuder said.

The opportunity came with the recent hiring of Dan Bitzer as market president in Grand Rapids. Bitzer is a veteran commercial lender with 27 years experience. He once worked with Schreuder and FNB of Michigan President Larry Lueth when they were both at the former First of America Corp. and National City Bank.

“If we could attract the right talent, we thought it could be a great next step for our bank,” Schreuder said. “With the economy growing the way it is in Grand Rapids and the outlook for continued growth in the greater Grand Rapids area, we just think it’s an ideal step for us at this point.”

The privately-owned FNB of Michigan is finalizing a lease for a downtown office that will open at midyear, Schreuder said.

Grand Rapids is already home to locally owned community banks with a similar approach to FNB of Michigan: Founders Bank & Trust, The Bank of Holland and Grand River Bank among them.

While the bank won’t have as strong of a hometown connection to Grand Rapids as it does in Kalamazoo, Schreuder believes FNB’s model will resonate and that the market has room for another small, community bank.

“That community-banking approach will be an important part of what we’re doing in the Grand Rapids area,” he said. “It’s going to be very important that we deliver a high-touch approach to banking (in Grand Rapids) and that the business owners know the leadership team of the bank.”

The move into Grand Rapids comes nearly six years after FNB of Michigan opened its first office in downtown Kalamazoo. The bank also has plans for further expansion. The bank — which opened branches in Portage in 2009 and Oshtemo Township in 2011 — wants to open a branch somewhere along Westnedge Avenue in Kalamazoo during the latter part of 2012 and will consider future locations in the Kalamazoo area and beyond.

“We are looking at opportunities on the west side of the state for growth,” Schreuder said. “It could be Kalamazoo, but it could be broader than Kalamazoo County. There are other areas of Southwest Michigan and West Michigan that could provide opportunities, so we’ll just have to continue to examine those opportunities and see what plays out over the next number of years.”

FNB Michigan has enjoyed solid growth since launching in April 2006 and even grew earnings during the recession. The bank finished 2011 with assets of $205 million, up 17 percent from 2010, and deposits of $174 million, an 18-percent increase for the previous year.

FNB’s income for 2011 will total about $2.1 million, Schreuder said.

The bank in 2011 ranked sixth out of 18 banks with a combined 73 offices in Kalamazoo County.

FNB held a 6.35 percent share of a $2.63 billion deposit market as of June 30, according to the annual FDIC Summary of Deposits.

By comparison, the Grand Rapids area has 21 banks with 197 offices and a combined $11.67 billion in deposits.

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Brian Edwards

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