instead of digging itself out of the past. And everyone involved praisess Thomas H. Brouster, the career bank fix- it man turned chairman and chief executive of Midland. He's nearly cleaned up the complex problem-loan portfolio and freed the bank from its cease-and-desist orders - not to mention its reputation for management scandal. And his success has allowed the bank to return to performing status a loan from more than 20 other banks used to bail out Midland five years ago. "You just can't say enough about Tom Brouster and what he's done out there," said Camden R. Fine, president of Midwest Independent Bank, Jefferson City, Mo., the banker's bank that took over Midland, Lee's Summit, Mo., in its darkest hour and hired Mr. Brouster to turn the place around. "To take a bank that was in as bad a shape and turn it around in 24 months, I don't know of another person in the country who could have done that," Mr. Fine declared. How bad was it? Past-due and nonperforming loans, mostly in commercial real estate, were $123 million in November 1993. That was about 10% of all assets. On Sept. 30 this year, by contrast, Midland reported no past-due or nonperforming loans. It had $13 million in other real estate owned, down from $25 million, Mr. Brouster said. Tier-one capital has reached 7% after dipping to 1.9%, and Mr. Brouster projects 1995 earnings between $4.6 and $5 million. A September 1995 exam reduced classified assets to $15 million from about $110 million in 1993, he said. Missouri's finance department lifted its cease-and-desist order at the end of the third quarter and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. should do the same this quarter, he said. "I think the future of Midland is excellent," said Mr. Brouster from a well-deserved vacation in California. "I think that we're really well- poised now to really focus on taking advantage of the retail markets that we're in and really concentrate our efforts on building earnings and increasing our customer base." The now $292 million-asset bank's road to revival really started before its downward spiral. In 1990, the group of 25 banks that ultimately would help to save it joined Missouri's banker's bank in a $6.9 million routine loan participation to the then-seemingly trouble-free institution. Then, a 1992 FDIC exam uncovered problems, including illegal loan practices. Capital plunged and several managers were convicted of bank fraud. Midland defaulted on the banks' loan in March 1993. Midwest Independent held a foreclosure sale - but no one bid. Instead of sending Midland to the FDIC, $50 million-asset Midwest Independent took over the then-$400 million-asset bank, an unusual step. Mr. Brouster came on board in late 1993 and the original loan participators agreed to invest another $6.5 million to recapitalize the bank. "It's a great success story," said Corwin S. Ruge Jr., president and chief executive of $25 million-asset Farmers and Merchants Bank of Wright City, Mo., whose bank's two investments totaled about a half-million dollars. "It proves what can be done if people in our business have foresight and gumption," he said.

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