Washington Mutual's loss of retail banking executive Julie Rossi three years ago ended up being FirstMerit Bank's gain.

After leaving Seattle to return to the Midwest to help care for an ill family member, Grossi received a call from FirstMerit asking if she'd be interested in joining the Akron, Ohio, bank as its head of retail banking. Grossi agreed, partly because it was an easy commute, but also because, as she puts it, the retail side of the $11 billion-asset bank "needed a little tender loving care."

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