Taylor Does The Right Thing

May 17, 2002
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MUSKEGON — There are managers and there are leaders. Tim Taylor enjoys being the latter.

The difference is that leaders focus on supporting and encouraging people and "doing the right thing," said Taylor, community president for the Muskegon area for Huntington Bank. It's a job title he says is "a fancy way of saying team leader."

As that leader, the 56-year-old Taylor defines his role as "one that provides an opportunity to encourage and be an advocate for anyone in the bank and the community itself.

"There's something good about being proud of where we work and play and live, and there's something good about saying we have a responsibility to give back to the community where we work. Part of my job is getting others to understand that," Taylor said. "The job is not about authority. It's about getting people to understand what's right.

"There's nothing more important than that."

Taylor joined Huntington in December 1999 and assumed the leadership role for the Muskegon area last fall. He oversees a region that covers from central Ottawa County, including the Grand Haven-Spring Lake area, north to Whitehall in Muskegon County. The region has nine Huntington Bank offices. Taylor's position also includes overseeing mid-market commercial lending.

Taylor says the Muskegon position brought him back to his favorite part of the business – working directly with customers. It's a role he says he came to miss while holding other positions during his career.

"I have a ball with it," Taylor says of his renewed interaction with commercial borrowers. "It gets to the issue of the purpose of the business. The rewards that come from the business are all driven by that."

Taylor began his banking career in 1966 when he was hired straight out of Michigan State University by First National Bank and Trust Co. of Kalamazoo — the bank that later became First of America, which was bought out by National City four years ago. After working in branch management, he was picked in 1971 to serve as chief executive of a small affiliate bank in Deerfield, located east of Adrian in southern Michigan.

He calls the move his biggest career break, because the job enabled him to hone his people skills and strategic planning.

Taylor was a later transferred to serve as bank president in Centreville, and then to Holland in 1982, where he was First of America's local president. He left Holland in 1992 to become CEO at Genoa Banking Co., a small community bank east of Toledo, Ohio.

He left FoA because he wanted a new professional challenge. The position in Ohio, however, provided a little more challenge than he initially believed. While he was well aware that Genoa was experiencing financial problems, Taylor was still surprised when six months after arriving in Ohio, the bank was hit with a cease and desist order from the Federal Reserve.

The Fed, Taylor recalls, had about 15 issues with the bank's operations that "were serious enough they were concerned about (the bank's) survival." Taylor went to work addressing the problems, and within a year had returned the bank to profitability.

"My thought at the time was let's get our sleeves rolled up, figure out a plan of action and get the thing resolved," he said.

In 1999, Taylor his wife of 35 years, Linda, decided they wanted return to West Michigan to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Days before the moving van was scheduled to depart Ohio, Taylor was offered, and accepted, a job with Huntington Bank as senior sales executive at the private financial group in Holland.

"We came home," Taylor said.

While the banking industry continues to evolve, Taylor said the key remains sticking with the fundamentals. Huntington has often been the target in recent years of smaller banks that claim better service and tout their local control and ownership.

Taylor believes that when it comes to customer service, size doesn't matter. Your actions do, especially in an era of fierce competition between banks of all sizes.

"We have customers who are not about to not let us do it right," he said. "You either do it right, or you lose customers."

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