President, chief executive Barnett Bank of West Florida

Alex Crotzer won his dream job last year after a trial run.

The 38-year-old executive, then head of corporate lending at Barnett Bank of Central Florida, was tapped last May to temporarily succeed his boss, Thomas H. Yochum, as chief operating officer. Mr. Yochum is overseeing Barnett Banks Inc.'s acquisition of First Florida Banks Inc., and is slated to return in February.

Mr. Crotzer's ambition was to run one of Barnett's 33 subsidiaries on a permanent basis, but he anticipated returning to his old post as an executive vice president when Mr. Yochum returned. Then, in December, he was named to run the Pensacola-based West Florida unit, which has $322 million in assets. He'll take up the new post on Jan. 1.

"This is exactly what I wanted to do. I'll become president of that bank exactly 15 years to the day when I joined Barnett," Mr. Crotzer says.

A native of Jackson, Miss., Mr. Crotzer earned a business degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville. He entered Barnett's management training program in Jacksonville in 1978, just as the company was about to embark on a decade of unprecedented expansion.

"I was sort of thrust into some positions early that gave me the chance to move along quickly," he says.

In his first job as an account officer in Barnett's U.S. banking division, Mr. Crotzer lured the Florida account of a major Memphis-based food wholesaler away from a competitor. His next posting was in the metropolitan department of the Jacksonville-based company's lead bank, where he called on local companies. He also gained management experience by running a local branch.

After heading Barnett's real estate department for a few years, Mr. Crotzer was put in charge of corporate lending in central Florida in 1986. Mr. Yochum describes him as one of the best corporate lenders in the Barnett system. "Alex has that intuitive, as well as quantitative, ability to look at a credit and structure it as it needs to be structured," he says.

Mr. Yochum says he approves of Mr. Crotzer's ambition to take on more responsibility.

"When an individual exhibits that desire, that zeal, and that ability, the combination can mean good things," he says.

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