When he ran Banc One, until the early 1980s, John G. McCoy, now 83, often got his message across wordlessly.

Strolling through the bank, he would turn off lights in empty rooms and pick up stray paper clips from the floor. Waste was intolerable, his actions said; no detail was too small.

Today, his successor and son, John B. McCoy, 53, relies on a state-of- the-art video conferencing system to beam his image and words to Banc One's 26-state, $90 billion-asset financial empire.

"The whole deal is communicating," the younger McCoy said from his office overlooking the city. "You can't communicate enough."

For all that has changed at Banc One during the past few decades - and indeed, in the banking industry as a whole - much remains the same when it comes to the priorities, strategies, and worries of a banking CEO.

This continuity is nowhere more apparent than in the McCoy family, which has been running banks since 1922.

The first McCoy at the helm was the current CEO's grandfather, John H. McCoy. He spent 13 years at People's Banking and Trust Co. in Marietta, Ohio, before jumping to City National Bank and Trust - the forerunner of Banc One - in 1935. He ran the company until his death in 1958.

That's when the current chief's father, John G. McCoy, took over. He built the bank into a statewide company with $9 billion of assets by 1984, when he resigned as CEO. He stepped down as chairman three years later.

Those positions, of course, went to his son, John B. McCoy. Beginning in the early 1980s, he took Banc One nationwide, bulking it up into the 10th- largest U.S. banking company.

The grandfather, who was a banker at a time when banks were not allowed to branch across county lines, would never recognize the nationwide colossus that Banc One has become. But he likely would recognize his son's and grandson's methods.

Interviewed separately, the current chief and his retired father offered some strikingly similar thoughts on running a bank.

They both likened the CEO job to that of a personnel director.

"I realized soon after taking over (in 1958) that I wasn't as smart as my father," said the retired McCoy. "So I decided that I needed to hire the smartest people that I could find."

He recalled that when he joined his father at the bank in 1937, only two of the 14 officers had been to college. In subsequent years, the bank recruited actively from colleges and business schools.

Both McCoys attended Stanford Business School, the source of many Banc One employees over the years. At a time when few business school grads were going into banking, Banc One was able to attract a stream of recruits from Stanford and other graduate programs, the older McCoy said.

"I spend a fair amount of time in the people business - coaching, really," the younger McCoy said. "And I want to make sure I get the right people in the right jobs."

Three months ago Banc One made a high-profile hire: The president and chief operating officer of Taco Bell Corp., Kenneth T. Stevens, became the new manager of all aspects of Banc One's national retail effort.

In the father's day, the recruiting process was a bit different.

"Back then, we used to go to our minister and ask him to point out the good, honest boys," the senior McCoy said. "That's how we got our people."

Both McCoys said the job of the bank CEO is never really finished.

"Wherever I am, I'm selling the bank," the son said. "At a cocktail party, I'm trying to find the new guy in town with a lot of money who might want to do some business with the bank. I never turn it off."

The younger McCoy estimated his average working day at about 12 to 13 hours. The father said his average day lasted roughly from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. And grandfather McCoy never stopped working, even after four heart attacks, until the day he died at 71 - from his fifth.

The father recalled a story: In 1960, shortly after taking over as CEO, he could not make it home for dinner - for 41 straight days. "My 14-year-old daughter asked, 'When's Daddy going to be vice president again?'"

He acknowledged that his "nose to the grindstone" approach may have taken its toll, but he proudly pointed to his marriage of 55 years and his son's decision to follow him into the profession.

Banc One is 10 times larger than when the senior McCoy retired and is involved in many new businesses, but the current chief shares the same worries as his father and grandfather before him.

"How do you screw up a bank? Bad loans, bad loans, or bad loans," the son said. "We don't lend our legal limit - $700 million - because I don't ever want to wake up one morning and find out we've lost $700 million. If we lose $7 million, I'm mad enough."

To be sure, the job has changed.

The father and grandfather called themselves bankers; the son sees himself more as a corporate manager. His managerial skills, though honed in the world of banking, are transferable to any number of industries. His job is mostly managing people and making sure the company keeps ticking; his predecessors probably spent most of their time drumming up savings accounts or loans.

What's more, the scope of the job, in geographical reach and complexity, has expanded far beyond its previous parameters, the son said.

"When my father went out of the office, he was still in Ohio. I'm out of the state probably three times a week."

The current chief requires a company jet to get him to all of Banc One's major markets at least twice a year.

Because of its expanse and the ongoing dismantling of the barriers to interstate branching, Banc One, like many other regional banks, is concerned more with federal than state legislative issues.

Whereas Banc One under the senior McCoy spent most of its lobbying dollars in the state capital, the son hosts $1,500-a-plate dinners in his home for members of Congress such as Jim Leach, chairman of the House Banking Committee. Mr. McCoy goes to Washington about once a month.

Will the McCoy legacy at Banc One continue?

John B. McCoy's two daughters appear to have ruled out careers at the bank. Tracy, 25, has gone into teaching. Paige, 22, is finishing up a business degree, but she hasn't shown a strong interest in following in her father's footsteps.

That leaves a 17-year-old son, who will be a high school senior this year. No word on his plans yet, but his name is auspicious: John T. McCoy.

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