Creswell Heads Grand Haven Bank

September 26, 2003
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GRAND HAVEN — The opportunity to join a hometown bank that holds the same banking philosophy and to do business with "friends and neighbors" lured the new chief executive of Grand Haven Bank back into the business.

Tom Creswell, a veteran commercial lender whose most recent banking position was serving as Republic Bank's top local executive, began Sept. 22 as Grand Haven Bank's new president and CEO, taking over about a month after his predecessor left to join a rival bank that's just entering the market.

After three years of running his own business, Creswell saw opportunity when he was approached by Grand Haven Bank, a community bank that caters to small and medium-sized businesses. He likes the bank's small-town "relationship banking" style that emphasizes strong personal service and the high level of autonomy and decision-making that parent company Capitol Bancorp Ltd. grants its local community banks.

"To me, this is kind of the ultimate banking experience," Creswell said. "This is what everybody, as far as I can tell, should aspire to."

Creswell succeeds John Groothuis, Grand Haven Bank's founding CEO who resigned abruptly in mid-August to join Macatawa Bank Corp. as community bank president for the Grand Haven area. He was joined by four commercial lenders who left Grand Haven Bank for Macatawa, which has opened a lending office and plans to have a temporary branch open next month. Grand Haven Bank has since hired a new commercial lender and has additional positions to fill.

Creswell's initial task is to reinforce to retail and commercial customers that while there's been turnover in the bank's top officers, the community-banking philosophy and much of the staff remain intact.

"Some of the faces may have changed but the bank is still here and doing what it's always done," he said. "We're going to build on the success they've had over the past eight years."

Founded in 1995, Grand Haven Bank has grown to become the No. 2 bank in the market in terms of deposit share. The bank also had assets of $131.4 million as of June 30 and loans totaling $120.7 million.

Grand Haven Bank began seeking a new chief executive as soon as Groothuis resigned.

As bank directors searched for potential prospects, Creswell's name "kept coming up," board member Gerald Witherell said.

After contacting Creswell and interviewing him, bank directors found his personable style and professional abilities to their liking and a good fit with Grand Haven Bank's role. He's also somebody who knows the local market, Witherell said.

"He understands community banking," Witherell said. "He's very personable and, oh by the way, an excellent banker. We are very fortunate to have him."

Cresswell started his banking career as a credit analyst for the former Michigan National Bank, now Standard Federal, in Grand Rapids. Over a five-year period, he rose to second vice president of commercial lending, managing a $100 million portfolio.

He joined the former Old Kent Bank in 1990 as vice president of commercial lending, serving small and medium-sized businesses with loans averaging $275,000. He later joined the former FMB Lumberman's Bank, now Huntington Bank, in Grand Haven and then served as West Michigan community bank president for Republic Bank from 1998 to 2000.

For the last three years, Creswell has owned and operated West Michigan Door, a Grand Rapids company that installs and services commercial and residential garage doors.

Creswell believes his experience in running his own small business will serve him well in his new role. It gave him an appreciation for what it takes to own and run a small business and that serving small business owners requires more than "just looking at the numbers," he said.

"You realize that not only are they hard working, but they do significantly more than their numbers are going to show you," he said.

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