Community Bankers of the Year — and Some Others Who Stood Out

The hardest part of selecting Community Bankers of the Year is narrowing down the field to three. Here's a look at the trio who stood out the most and seven others who merit honorable mentions.

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Community Banker of the Year Community Banker of the Year John Corbett, CenterState Bank of Florida

Eight acquisitions in two years have positioned CenterState as one of Florida's breakout banks. Meanwhile, Corbett's shrewd maneuver into correspondent banking — as others were exiting the business — has generated new revenue streams and given CenterState an up-close look at banks it might want to buy down the line.

Related Article: Community Banker of the Year: CenterState Bank CEO John Corbett

(Image: Tim Healy)

Community Banker of the Year Community Banker of the Year Ronald Paul, Eagle Bancorp

The Bethesda, Md., bank Paul founded in 1998 has reported increased profits in 15 straight quarters, and it's showing no signs of slowing down. Raiding talent from larger rivals has helped Eagle significantly boost loans and deposits, but credit also goes to Paul, whose relentless pounding of the pavement has yielded lasting and profitable relationships with entrepreneurs, developers and local governments.

Related Article: Community Bankers of the Year: Eagle Bancorp CEO Ron Paul

(Image: Rick Reinhard)

Community Banker of the Year Community Banker of the Year Cathleen Nash, Citizens Republic

The Flint, Mich., company was on the ropes when Nash took it over in 2009, but she came in with a clear plan to shed problem assets and cut costs and by mid-2011, it was making money again. Investors liked what they saw — the stock price has more than doubled over the last 15 months — and were even happier in September when the company announced it would sell itself to FirstMerit for $912 million.

Related Article: Community Banker of the Year: Citizens Republic CEO Cathleen Nash

(Image: Dan Nelken)

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Sheila Mathews, Four Corners Bank

It's small — just $214 million — but the Farmington, N.M., bank continues to post big profits, and its returns on assets and equity are among the best in the industry.

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Michael Vittorio, First of Long Island Corp.

The Glen Head, N.Y., bank is an industry standout, thanks to its stellar credit quality, an abundance of capital and knack for taking advantage of large banks' missteps.

(Image: Dan Nelken)

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Bernard Clineburg, Cardinal Financial

The McLean, Va., bank has emerged as a mortgage-lending force in the Washington, D.C., region by aggressively hiring bankers away from larger rivals. It's the only community bank in the country named one of Sandler O'Neill's 25 "all-stars" for three years running.

Related Article: This Is a Raid: Smaller Banks Get a Taste for Poaching

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Alvin Kang, BBCN Bancorp

Last year's merger between Nara Bank and Center Bank created the country's largest — and now healthiest — Korean-American bank, and Kang is quickly capitalizing on its newfound strength. In October, the Los Angeles bank announced a deal for Pacific International in Seattle, and it continues to scout for deals in its market and beyond.

Related Article: BBCN to Acquire Pacific International

(Image: Dan Nelken)

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Joseph DePaolo, Signature Bank

Founded by DePaolo in 2000, the New York bank has posted record earnings in 12 straight quarters. The secret to its success: Hiring established teams of commercial lenders from rival banks.

Related Article: Joseph DePaolo's Signature Bank is Hard to Copy

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention George Jones, Texas Capital

Even in fast-growing Texas, the Dallas bank is a standout. Its third-quarter profits climbed 50% on strong commercial loan growth and its stock is up 45% year to date. Like Signature, it has thrived by recruiting teams of bankers away from competitors.

Related Article: M&A Is Not the Only Way to Grow, Bank Executives Say

Honorable Mention Honorable Mention Ed Wehmer, Wintrust Financial

The CEO of the Chicago-area multi-bank holding company engineered deals for three failed banks and one open bank in 2012. Wintrust also beefed up its lucrative specialty-financing business with its acquisition of a Canadian firm that finances insurance premiums for corporate clients.

Related Article: Wintrust Pursues Small Banks As Others Wait for the Big Deal

The hardest part of selecting Community Bankers of the Year is narrowing down the field to three. Here's a look at the trio who stood out the most and seven others who merit honorable mentions.

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