FORT LORAMIE — At one time in Mike Monnier’s 45-year career in banking, he had the opportunity to move to a big city and manage a national operations center of a large bank.
He turned it down. And because World Savings then sold off its Ohio holdings, Monnier made the best decision of his work life: he applied to become the manager of a new branch of the Osgood State Bank that, in 1993, was about to open in Fort Loramie.
Twenty-five years later, he will retire this month as President/CEO of OSB Bancorp Inc., the Osgood State Bank holding company. The bank will celebrate his accomplishments at an open house throughout the day, Dec. 19, during regular hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at a reception, open to the public, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., in the Fort Loramie branch, 500 E. Park St.
“I really believe in community banking,” Monnier, who lives in Sidney, told the Sidney Daily News recently.
A 1969 graduate of Russia High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Bowling Green State University in 1973, and in 1978, he graduated from the Ohio Savings and Loan Academy at Ohio University.
He was hired by Edwin Frey as a teller and bookkeeper at First Federal Saving and Loan in Sidney.
“He was my mentor,” Monnier said. Frey asked his new teller, “Do you golf?”
“No,” said Monnier.
“Well, you’re going to learn,” Frey responded. He encouraged Monnier to join a service club, play on the club golf team and to serve as its secretary.
“You’ll meet everybody,” Frey said.
“I did that when I came to Fort Loramie. I pretty much joined every organization in Fort Loramie,” Monnier said.
Before he got to the Osgood branch, though, he served as treasurer and then vice president/treasurer of First Federal. When First Federal merged with Border City Savings & Loan in Piqua, becoming First Border Savings, he was the treasurer and secretary to the board.
World Savings acquired First Border Savings in 1988. Monnier was named back office operations manager for the state of Ohio, which included seven branches in Steubenville, Norwalk, Sandusky, Piqua and Sidney. He was promoted to district manager trainee and four months later to Ohio district support manager. He remained until World Savings wanted him to move to San Antonio, Texas.
In 1994, he opened the Osgood State Bank Fort Loramie branch.
“When we came to Fort Loramie, there was US Bank and Osgood. We knew we had to go for the younger generation. The older generation wasn’t going to change. So I got involved with the school. I understood how a big, regional bank works compared to a small community bank,” he said.
Monnier knew, for instance, that when people phoned the bank, “they didn’t want to get someone in Wisconsin. Community banks are involved in the community,” he said.
It’s that involvement and the bank’s growth that make him most proud.
“I really had a true impact not only at the bank but in the community. If you look at Fort Loramie, what they’ve done with schools, parks. I’m not living in the community, but I’ve been a part of the community. We’re doing that in every one of our locations,” he said. There are also branches in Osgood, Chickasaw and Indian Lake.
When Monnier arrived in 1994, there was no human resources department, no employee manual, no accountant.
“I think they hired me because of my strong operations background,” he said. He oversaw the addition of ATMs. He brought to the Osgood State Bank, procedures that he knew from his work in the larger organization.
“Whatever you’re doing, you learn something from it. Even though it’s a big institution, there were things that you could implement in community banking,” he said. “I try to establish relationships.”
In 1998, he took on additional duties as human resource manager. Three years later, he was promoted to senior vice president of branch operations. Five years after that, he became president/CEO of OSB Bancorp Inc. and Osgood State Bank and was voted onto its board of directors.
Among its successes, the bank weathered the great recession of 2008.
“At that time, every institution was having issues. We were not exempt from that,” he said. Monnier knew where to turn for help.
Scott Hinsch Jr. had been president of Star Bank and was then a consultant. He has since been named a part-time senior administrative officer of Osgood State Bank. In 2009, Monnier asked Hinsch for ideas of how to improve the staff to enhance the culture of the bank.
“If it wouldn’t have been for Scott, I don’t think we’d be where we are. I was able to use his expertise. We made some tough decisions we knew we had to make, but we were always supported by board members,” Monnier said.
Regulations were becoming more restrictive. In response to failures at large institutions, the government regulated all banks, even small, community ones, in the same way. The regulations engendered expenses.
“So how do we address those expenses?” Monnier explained: “In downturns, what you need to have in place is asset/liability management. We call it balance sheet management. What are the risks? What are you earning on investments, paying on loans? Based on history, this is where we are now. If interest rates go up, what happens? If they go down, what happens? How do we survive and still stay an independent community bank? You make sure you perform well.”
The Osgood State Bank prepares three-year projections and analyzes its strategic plan quarterly. It’s a method that seems to be working. The bank has realized a 20 percent growth in assets in each of the last five years.
Monnier knew that cultivating new leadership was also part of performing well. In 2014, he approached the board and told them there was an up-and-coming leader already on staff. Monnier suggested that he transition out of the bank presidency and that they put the up-and-comer in.
“So Tony Kaiser is president of the bank and I’m president of the holding company,” Monnier said. “He and I have a really good relationship. We understand each other’s strengths. We have open communications.” Now, it’s Monnier’s turn to be the mentor.
“Mike is very passionate. That’s something you can’t always teach. It’s important to us to find ways to continue that passion. Mike was smart to make plans for a smooth transition,” said Trena Hershberger, the bank’s human resources manager. “He’s staying on the board, so he’ll still be here as a guiding force.”
Monnier has few regrets. He’s sorry that as bank president, he didn’t have the time to continue to play trumpet in the Fort Loramie Area Alumni Band.
“I picked up the trumpet after 25 years when the band director asked me to do it,” he said. And he played for 20 years.
He served three times as president of the Fort Loramie Area Chamber of Commerce and established the business expo and the chamber directory. A 24-year member of the Fort Loramie Community Service Club, he was president twice and secretary/treasurer for 10 years. In retirement, he will continue his involvement on the Finance Committee of Holy Angels Church, a post he has held for 20 years, and as treasurer of Shelby County Right to Life, a post he has held for 25 years.
Professionally, he sits on the board of the Community Bankers Association of Ohio and is chairman of its Legislative and Regulatory Committee.
“You’re put on this earth for a reason. For me, it’s the relationships I’ve had over the years and learned something from everybody. I couldn’t do any of that without support from my family. Balancing career and family is the key,” he said.
Family are his father, Norris, of Sidney; his wife, Judy; their daughters and sons-in-law, Melissa and Chuck Brawner, of Louisville, Kentucky, and Kelly and Dave Kerg, of Troy; and their grandchildren, Mallory and Emma Brawner and Isaac and Carly Kerg.
“I enjoy attending things for my grandkids and my daughters. I’m a people person. It’s nice to (work with) a mixture of age groups, see how people think,” he said. “I want to keep my body in shape, but also my brain.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.