Banking on Growth and Success

First Federal Bank offers a full range of services to meet every banking need.
Jul 7, 2017
Deborah C. Gerbers
Steve Vorderman

First Federal Bank is a nearly 100-year old institution headquartered in Defiance, Ohio. The community-focused bank has a footprint in northwest Ohio, southeast Michigan and northeast Indiana, with two Fort Wayne locations, one at Dupont and Lima roads as well as on Illinois Road. First Federal Bank achieves success by delivering exceptional customer service with its quality team of bankers.

The bank has plans in three to five years to grow to $5 billion (in asset size) organically as well as from acquisitions, according to Jim Williams, executive vice president, Western market area president at First Federal Bank. “We are continually evaluating acquisitions to determine if they’re the right fit,” says Williams. “The right acquisition fit will likely mean someone who is within or contiguous to our footprint with a similar culture. However, organic growth will predominantly stem from our metro markets in Toledo; Columbus, Ohio; and Fort Wayne. Being founded and headquartered in Defiance, we already have a dominant market share in northwest Ohio. There is a real emphasis corporately to expand our presence in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana.”

As vice president, senior commercial lender, Jim Swift has a managerial and supervisory role. “There are two additonal commercial bankers and one small business banker in the Fort Wayne market. The distinction between these bankers is the size of the lending needs of their clients but bottom line there are four of us in the market focused on serving commercial businesses. That’s my focus, but beyond commercial banking, we have a private banker, a mortgage lender, as well as an array of retail staff dedicated to being a full-service bank to our clients.” 

The bank strives to help its customers by focusing on its foundational values. “The company’s mission is to provide smart solutions to clients in a timely and responsive manner,” says Swift. “That is expressed through the people we hire, as well as the way we do business. The vision of the bank is to be people-focused, performance-driven, community-minded, innovative and trustworthy.” 

First Federal Bank has assembled a team of commercial bankers that wants to help the customer succeed. “We strive first to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish and then see how we can help them achieve their goals,” says Swift. “It’s the way we conduct business.”

The company culture at First Federal Bank has the feel of a small bank with local customers in mind. “What I find with First Federal Bank is a publicly-traded organization driven by shareholder value. But, we are equally a community bank by the way we have structured our team. As a client, you can communicate with all of the decision makers as with other community banks, but being publicly traded we are also very mindful of growth and performance. The company culture is focused on providing excellent customer service and getting to know customers personally.” 

Being a full-service bank, First Federal Bank also assists commercial and consumer customers with real estate banking needs such as mortgages and home equity lines. “So much of a client’s banking needs are real estate based, and we understand that,” says Swift. “In addition to residential real estate, there are also commercial real estate banking needs. At First Federal Bank, we take a unique, specified approach to real estate decisions. I like to say we paint with a fine paintbrush and evaluate each customer’s specific transaction rather than paint with a broad brush that looks only at the industry. We have a solid real estate portfolio that is an active asset of our organization. We don’t shy away from these opportunities; instead we handle investment, retail and also owner-occupied real estate.”

First Federal Bank has financed several well-known projects in Fort Wayne, including the Anthony Wayne Building and the Sport One Ice Arena and Fieldhouse. “I feel we have had a meaningful impact in northeast Indiana,” says Swift. “We worked alongside the developers in these instances to positively impact the city. We help owners, manufacturers and distributors take care of their real estate needs, in order to achieve a positive economic result.”

Swift believes firmly in First Federal Bank’s team of professional, trustworthy and experienced employees committed to providing excellent customer service. “We value character,” he says. “When you find someone with good character, you have a person who thinks logically through a project to achieve success on all levels.”

First Federal Bank

Address: 9909 Illinois Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804

Phone: (260) 432-0022


Products & Services: Personal banking and loans, business banking and loans, investment needs

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