Richard C. Ercole is back doing what he likes best - building a fee-based business from scratch.
The veteran of Security Pacific Corp.'s cash management unit now heads Huntington Technology Co., a subsidiary formed on Nov. 1 by Huntington Bancshares Inc. to market cash management and transaction processing services.
Mr. Ercole, 50, has big plans for Huntington Technology, currently staffed by 35 people. It will market products based on technology developed by Huntington's automation arm, Huntington Service Co.
Huntington Technology will be "a quasi profit center," Mr. Ercole said, deriving revenue directly from some products and contributing revenue from some products to other units. He added that he would like to see the fledgling unit contributing 20% of Huntington's bottom line at the end of the decade.
'You Put Your Neck on the Line'
"In this business, there is a lot of responsibility and a lot of risk - you put your neck on the line," Mr. Ercole said.
"The thing I like most about it is that it is always changing. You're on the leading edge of technology, and that gives you the opportunity to develop new and better products."
Mr. Ercole also will market the National Clearing House Organization, a private check clearing organization aimed at reducing the cost of clearing checks by providing an alternative to the Federal Reserve System.
The computer system underlying the clearing house, called Chexs, is run by Huntington Bancshares, check courier US Check, and the consulting firm Littlewood, Shain & Co.
Mr. Ercole is a natural for the post. As a representative of Security Pacific, he was one of the founding members of the Electronic Clearing House Organization, a private organization for early presentment of checks.
At that time, Mr. Ercole traveled with banking consultant J.D. Carreker explaining the role of Eccho to banks around the country.
Will Seek Cooperation Among Groups
Now he will explain the role of the National Clearing House Organization to bankers. He says he would like to see some cooperation between the check clearing organization and Eccho.
"The National Clearing House Organization has a lot of potential," said Mr. Ercole. "It can change the payments system of this country.
"Banks that aren't real big players can save money using this. They can clear checks fast and inexpensively, and manage their cash a lot better."
Mr. Ercole, a 22-year veteran of Security Pacific Bank, joined it in 1963 as a chief teller. At the time, he was earning a bachelor's degree in history and mathematics at night at Los Angeles State University, now California State University at Los Angeles.
He moved up to branch operations and then to cash management.
A Stint at First Interstate
In 1978 he left Security to run cash management services at First Interstate Bank. In 1984 he returned to Secpac to oversee its cash management services.
In 1987 he was made president of Security Pacific Treasury Management Corp., a cash management unit of the Sequor Group that was run as a profit center.
Under his supervision, cash management revenue at for Security Pacific grew from $100 million in 1984 to $245 million in 1991.
Mr. Ercole developed a computerized cash concentration product for Secpac that resulted in $20 million in annual revenue. He also developed an automated clearing house system that reduced costs by 50%. The system slashed operating losses from over $1.7 million to under $150,000.
Free Rein at Security Pacific
Mr. Ercole says the atmosphere at Security Pacific encouraged independence. We were able to bring a product to market and create a business." he says. "We were in charge of own destiny."
He left Security Pacific last April, on the date of the merger with BankAmerica Corp. "The merger could have been one of the best things that happened to both institutions, but I don't think Bank-America has capitalized on the systems or the people they inherited," Mr. Ercole says.
Mr. Ercole has two grown children in Southern California, where he had spent all of his life till now. He says the only drawback to his move to Columbus is that he seldom sees the sun. "When I got here, I asked, 'When does the sun come out?' I was told, April.'"