The new West Michigan regional president for Huntington Bank moved into the job with nearly three decades of experience in the market.
Lauren Davis’ deep knowledge and understanding about the market provides continuity in leadership for Huntington, the second-largest bank operating in the Grand Rapids area that is now on its third regional president since its blockbuster merger a year ago with the former TCF Financial Corp.
“Being connected in West Michigan is critical to success and growth for your organization,” said Davis, who started July 15 as regional president for West Michigan.
“I have a lot of people in the community who have already reached out to me to say, ‘I want to help you,’” she said. “That alone gives me the confidence to know we will do great things here at Huntington Bank.”
Davis succeeded Krista Flynn, who departed Huntington Bank in the spring to lead Midwestern commercial banking for PNC Bank.
Filling the leadership position in a “very important” and growing market with a veteran commercial banker who knows the region well was critical, said Stephen Steinour, chairperson, president and CEO at the Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington Bancshares Inc.
“It’s hugely important to us. We never contemplated bringing somebody in from outside of the market,” Steinour told MiBiz. “Fundamentally, we’re in a people business. Relationships matter, and knowing those relationships and having trust and confidence as a consequence is vital to our long-term business.”
Davis leads a market that geographically extends north to Big Rapids and south to the Indiana border, from the lakeshore to east of Grand Rapids. The market includes Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Jackson, Holland and Muskegon.
Davis joined Huntington following the merger with TCF, where she worked for six years and served for the past year as senior vice president of middle market banking.
Steinour describes Davis as “dynamo” who “has a drive and energy that’s off the chart,” and is involved in the community and has been a great mentor to colleagues.
“She’ll be one of the outstanding leaders over a relatively short period of time,” he said.
A native of East Jordan in Northern Michigan, Davis spent more than 26 years in various roles at Fifth Third Bank and the former Old Kent Bank. She started at Old Kent as a branch manager and has worked in retail operations, audit, compliance, and CFO of divisions that include wealth management and the commercial group.
Davis moved to the former Chemical Bank in 2017 as a commercial group manager and then TCF following its merger with Chemical. She most recently led middle market banking following Huntington’s July 2021 acquisition of TCF.
“I would say I’ve been on a journey for many years to be in this role,” said Davis, whose first job in banking was as a teller at the former Northwestern State Bank in her hometown.
She recalls always wanting a career in banking, starting when she was 7 years old. At one point while early in college at Central Michigan University, Davis wanted to become a Federal Reserve chair.
“That was my job that I thought, ‘Oh, that would be cool,’” Davis said. “Going through college and all the finance and accounting classes that I took, I (saw) banking (have) such a significant impact on communities and the economy. I love how it impacts so many people. Whether it helps someone with their first mortgage or their first car, or helps parents put kids through college, and then when I moved to commercial banking how it helps businesses help their employees do the exact same thing.”
Huntington Bank can use its sizable market share in West Michigan “to touch so many people,” said Davis, who envisions recreating the Old Kent Bank brand and market-leading presence in Grand Rapids for Huntington after the TCF merger.
“I really do feel like we have the platform to do that,” she said. “Bringing these two great organizations together to be that for the West Michigan community, that’s one of my aspirations.”
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank acquired Old Kent in 2001.
Huntington Bank’s acquisition of Detroit-based TCF Bank created the second-largest bank operating in Michigan. As of a year ago, Huntington had nearly $41 billion in deposits for a 13.08 percent statewide market share. Huntington now ranks among the 20 largest banks in the U.S.
In the Grand Rapids area, Huntington Bank ranked second to Fifth Third Bank in the FDIC’s 2021 Summary of Deposits with $5.88 billion for a 19.5 percent market share.
Davis believes Huntington Bank can continue to grow in the market and that “talent is key to success.”
Since the TCF acquisition, Huntington Bank officials have seen competitors hire away talent, particularly commercial lenders. Since Huntington Bank announced her appointment, Davis has had colleagues reach out and say, “’I want to be on your team.’”
“We have significant, experienced talent here at Huntington today, but we do have some openings,” Davis said.