Grand Haven Bank Looks For Leaders

August 22, 2003
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GRAND HAVEN — After growing to become the No. 2 bank in town, Grand Haven Bank is determined to hold its market position and is moving quickly to hire a new president and commercial lending team.

The bank, in replacing its former founding president who jumped to a competitor, wants to find a new leader that’s well acquainted with the market and “will slip right into the strong community banking role that we provide,” interim President Paul Ballard said.

“That’s been the key to our service all along,” he said.

Grand Haven Bank was left without a president and commercial loan staff when John Groothuis and four commercial lenders departed this month to join Macatawa Bank Corp., which plans to move into the Grand Haven-area market soon.

Ballard hopes the bank will at least have new commercial lenders hired in the very near future and a new president as soon as possible.

“We hope to keep this as seamless as possible for customers,” Ballard said. “It’s a little bit of a challenge but nothing has fallen through the cracks, nor do we intend to let it.”

Under Groothuis’ leadership as president, Grand Haven Bank grew to become the No. 2 bank in the market in terms of deposit share and one of the most profitable for its parent company, Lansing-based Capitol Bancorp Ltd.

In addition to replacing key personnel, Grand Haven Bank will also face new competition from Macatawa Bank, an aggressive competitor that’s expected to shake up a market led by Fifth Third Bank, which has a 39.9 percent share of the deposit base in the Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg area. Grand Haven Bank was second at 17 percent and Bank One held a 16.7 percent market share, according to FDIC data.

“We’re not going to miss a beat,” said Joal Redmond, manager of corporate communications for Capitol Bancorp.

Grand Haven Bank, operating from a single location adjacent to downtown Grand Haven, had assets of $131.4 million as of June 30, up 6.4 percent from six months earlier and the fifth largest asset base among Capitol Bancorp’s 29 community banks in eight states. The bank’s loan portfolio was $120.7 million, according to Capitol Bancorp’s quarterly financial report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ballard, a director at Grand Haven Bank who retired in April as president of sister bank Portage Commerce Bank, doesn’t see Macatawa posing as much competition to Grand Haven Bank as it does for larger financial institutions in the market.

The hiring away of Groothuis and the commercial loan officers gave Macatawa Bank the local management team needed to venture into the Grand Haven area, a market it has yet to penetrate during its rapid branch buildup of recent years.

Furthering its aggressive growth plans, the Holland-based Macatawa Bank wants to have a commercial lending office open in Grand Haven soon and start construction on a full-service bank branch this fall, bank President Phil Koning said.

Executives of the rapidly growing Macatawa Bank, founded in late 1997, have always said they wanted to move into the Grand Haven-Spring Lake market but not until they found the right manager and officers who know the market.

“The most important part of the whole equation in Grand Haven is the right people. We found the right people,” Koning said. “Hopefully we’re going to be playing a large role in the market. We think it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

With assets totaling $1.25 billion and a lending portfolio of $1.03 billion, Macatawa Bank has 17 offices in southern Ottawa, Kent and northern Allegan counties and is moving aggressively to further expand its base in the region. The major growth target right now is in Kent County, where the bank has six branches and has put in place plans to have three more by the end of 2004.

Groothuis, who will lead commercial lending and community involvement for Macatawa Bank in Grand Haven, has been an acquaintance for years of Macatawa executives. He was a commercial lender at the former First of America years ago when Koning served as that bank’s community bank president in Holland.

Groothuis was drawn to Macatawa Bank by the corporation’s local ownership and corporate culture.

“I just really felt comfortable with a local Ottawa County bank holding company and I felt very comfortable with their commitment to the customer and the structure with which they allow employees to do their jobs,” Groothuis said.

In Grand Haven, the new office will give Macatawa Bank its first location in northern Ottawa County and the base for a potential expansion into neighboring Muskegon County in the future.

But further expansion of the branch network beyond Macatawa’s current plans may have to wait. With the growth plans in Kent County and Grand Haven, “we’ve got a lot of things on our agenda for the next 12 to 18 months,” Koning said.

“We think we have our hands full for now,” he said.       

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