As president and CEO of Lake City Bank, David Findlay finds himself on a fairly short list of the bank’s leaders. While that fact alone may not seem remarkable, adding the context of time makes it astonishing. Just 12 people have held that position since the bank first opened in 1872.
“It’s pretty amazing that we’ve had so few presidents in 150 years,” says Findlay. “Essentially, we’re stewards. It’s our job to run the bank in a way that allows us to hand the keys to the next generation.”
Lake City Bank first opened its doors in Warsaw, Indiana on May 14, 1872. As the bank celebrates its 150th year of continuous operation, it has grown significantly since its founding. Assets have grown from $60,000 at opening to $6.6 billion today. The single location in Kosciusko County has expanded to include 52 across the state, including offices in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Just since 2000, total shareholder return has grown by 2918%.
Nonetheless, the core of the bank remains the same. Warsaw still serves as home to its headquarters, the name Lake City Bank continues to grace its marquee, and its commitment to community banking has never wavered. That means banking decisions are made by people who live, work and serve alongside their clients. They understand local needs and nuance, and they operate accordingly.
That commitment, says Findlay, has been the real driver of the bank’s success.
“We really do believe in the value of community banking, and that starts with people,” says Findlay. “We have never wavered from our focus on employees, clients, communities and shareholders, in that order.”
Kristin Pruitt, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, is responsible for making sure Lake City Bank employees understand the role they play in not only the bank’s success, but also the community’s success.
“You can’t fake commitment to a community-driven mission and be successful over long periods of time,” says Pruitt. “It’s important for each person to understand the role they play in that.”
Building that understanding, as well as empowering employees to find entrepreneurial solutions for their customers, is the cornerstone of Lake City University. Pruitt oversees the bank’s internal training center and ensures employees have the skills and tools to serve people well.
“We can’t separate the bank’s success from our communities and the people who live in them,” explains Pruitt. “The development of our people is so critical because it allows them to focus on the people they serve.”
That message has not only taken root throughout the organization, it has grown and flourished. Eric Ottinger, Lake City Bank’s executive vice president and chief commercial banking officer, cites the culture as the primary reason he has been with the bank since 1999.
“Everyone sees they can make a difference,” says Ottinger. “When we take care of employees, they take care of clients, which helps both the clients and the community grow.”
Taking care of people extends beyond customer service at Lake City Bank. Community service is one of the bank’s eight core values, and evidence of that is easy to find. Employees are encouraged to get involved with nonprofits and other local organizations. While there is no set policy on work time allowed for these activities, the bank accommodates as much as possible.
“Whatever they need, if we can give it, we give it,” says Ottinger. “We’ll even suggest talent when we see a need in the community that fits with someone’s interests.”
Ottinger lives out this commitment himself. He serves on the executive board and finance committee of Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana, as well as on the boards of directors of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) and the Mad Anthonys Foundation.
“All banks handle deposits, make loans and help people manage money,” explains Pruitt. “So, we have to do it in a way that provides value to our communities. It’s just part of our ethos.”
More importantly, it’s personal. Lake City Bank has always operated from within the communities where it does business. Local people greet customers, handle transactions and make decisions. Bank employees live in the same communities they serve; many have grown up in the area.
Cammy Treadway, senior vice president and commercial east regional manager, takes particular pride in her local heritage.
“Everybody engages in things outside the bank. Whether it’s involvement in our kids’ schools, sports, or non-profits, all those extra activities really help us get to know people. That’s what it’s all about,” says Treadway. “We want to be able to see the people we work with every day. I love getting to know our clients, running into them in restaurants, and seeing them when I’m out and about.”
Not surprisingly when the bank’s 150th anniversary rolled around on May 14, the celebration focused on people. Each employee received a gift, members of the senior management team visited each office, and sincere thank-yous were issued to the community. Then they kept on doing what they’ve always done: taking care of people.
“I’m grateful for the people who have come before us, and I’ve always felt a responsibility to those who come after us,” says Pruitt. “Communities are strengthened from the inside, and as a bank, we’re uniquely positioned to do good within them. We want our community to be better for us being here.”
The formula seems simple, but 150 years of continuous operation, punctuated by a solid track record of growth, show how well it works. It’s all about priorities, says Findlay.
“Our objective is not how big we become, but how well we execute,” he says. “If we take care of the important things, the rest will take care of itself.”
Owner(s): David Findlay, President/CEO
Address: Headquarters: 202 E. Center St., Warsaw, Indiana 46580
Phone: (888) 522-2265
Years in Business: 150; founded in 1872
Products & Services: Retail and commercial banking, wealth management services