President and CEO, First Bank Financial Centre
155 W. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc
Industry: Financial services
Family: Wife, Katie, and two grown sons
What’s new at First Bank Financial Centre?
“We were proud to be named Wisconsin’s No. 1 SBA lender again in 2014, and I’m excited to announce that later this spring we’ll be expanding our footprint into downtown Milwaukee. While we have previously loaned money throughout the state, this is the first time we’ll have an office in Milwaukee County. Our new office, located at the corner of Milwaukee Street and East Wisconsin Avenue, will concentrate on business lending, bringing our SBA expertise to a market that has not traditionally been our focus. We’re excited to be near other thriving locally-based businesses.”
How does FBFC spark economic development in Wisconsin?
“We’ve been the state’s No. 1 SBA lender the last two years and a top 25 SBA lender nationally. We work hard to lend to local small businesses, as we consider them to be the backbone of our economy. These customers appreciate our quick turnaround and local decision-making, allowing them to concentrate on their businesses.
“We’ve also established business loan pools in seven communities, providing 1 percent fixed rate capital to businesses looking to open or expand. It’s a true partnership between the bank and those communities to spark economic development.”
FBFC has been serving customers for more than 155 years. What has been the key to your longevity?
“Wisconsin residents like to support their friends and neighbors and many of them like to bank locally, especially with an organization that gives back to the community. We try to make a real difference, both in terms of volunteerism and charitable giving. In fact, our 250 employees volunteer with over 400 organizations annually, and we’ve donated more than $1 million the last five years.
“We’ve filled a niche in the market by partnering community involvement with competitive rates and exceptional customer service. We have second and third generation customers who we’re proud to serve.”
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“The most immediate investment we’re making is to support our new office in downtown Milwaukee. With a focus primarily on commercial lending, the space will have unique requirements that don’t necessarily follow our traditional branch model. We’re also actively seeking new lenders to join our team that have the SBA lending expertise we require and understand the unique challenges and opportunities facing downtown businesses.”
Do you have a business mantra?
“Years ago I read a quote from Harry S. Truman that has benefitted me throughout my career: ‘You can accomplish anything in life provided you do not mind who gets the credit.’”
How do you maintain your community focus as you grow and add staff?
“It’s something we consistently emphasize. Our employee base has doubled in the time I’ve been with the bank, and it takes a dedicated effort across all departments to live our brand.
“We’re proud that we’re now in a position where job candidates are seeking us out, hoping to join us in making a difference in people’s lives. That’s a real compliment and a testament to the team we have in place.”
What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“Our business model requires an exceptional level of customer service, so our employees are our most important resource. The biggest challenge we face is finding exceptional job candidates who have the ability to effectively exceed customer expectations. We’ve been fortunate that, as we’ve grown, we’ve been able to maintain our customer-centric approach, and finding team members that continue that tradition of excellence remains a priority.”
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“The people I most look up to are not necessarily business people, but rather are the men and women who selflessly serve our country. Without their sacrifice, none of the things we achieve in business are even possible. We can’t thank them enough for their service.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“I once read that, ‘Relationships are the only things that matter in business and in life.’ That’s really why I do what I do for a living. The financial services industry is, at its core, all about building relationships. I’m very fortunate that I’ve worked with so many talented people, and continue to work with a great team today.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“When I’m not spending time with my beautiful granddaughter, I’m an avid runner and I enjoy reading.”