Brian M. Hartline takes the helm of Main Street Bancorp in Reading, Pa., today with no shortage of problems to address.

In the past four months the $1.5 billion-asset parent of Main Street Bank has closed its mortgage banking subsidiary, reported a $2.4 million second-quarter loss, and most recently entered into agreements with regulators over management supervision.

But if the 35-year-old Mr. Hartline is daunted by the challenge, he is not showing it. "With a different leader and a different vision, everything will come together very quickly," he said.

In April, Main Street dismissed Nelson R. Oswald, who co-founded it in 1987. The company cited disagreements about strategic direction.

After 18 months in which the branch count in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey nearly doubled, to 45, the board decided it was time to focus on profits instead of growth.

Mr. Hartline said his first priorities are to reverse sagging fortunes relating to the expansion and to build a "good team."

"The infrastructure is already there," he said. "We just need to recruit people."

Given the unrest at the company, Mr. Hartline will also be expected to motivate the staff, said Richard D. Weiss, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

"The challenge is going to be to calm everyone down and say, 'This is my vision going forward and this is how we're going to do it,' " he said.

But how much of it will be his own vision is uncertain. Mr. Hartline was not named a director.

That is a "very rare" omission, Mr. Weiss. "I wasn't even sure you could do that. If it were a thrift, he would have to be on the board."

Mr. Hartline has never been a chief executive, but he spent the past two years as director and chief financial officer of USABancshares.com. Before that he was the CFO of $2.3 billion-asset ML Bancorp and its Main Line Bank in Villanova, Pa.; Sovereign Bancorp bought ML in 1998.

Mr. Hartline joins Main Street just weeks after it entered into informal agreements with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking to address weak internal controls.

A regulatory examination in December found problems with management oversight, but now "95% of the problems have been corrected," said Andrew J. Rothermel, Main Street's executive vice president and general counsel.

Still, the recent disruptions have hurt earnings. The company lost $2.4 million in the second quarter, mostly because of severance payments from a corporate reorganization and the May closing of Granite Mortgage Corp., which Main Street had bought just six months earlier.


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