Ohio Citizens Makes No Secret of Its Willingness to Lend

Backed by a cadre of new lending officers, Ohio Citizens Bank is advertising its willingness to make loans to area businesses.

"Not only do we have the strongest business team in the area, we also have money to lend, and people need to know that," said Robert E. Showalter, president of the $1.1 billion-asset bank based in Toledo.

Thanks to employee fallout from other mergers and acquisitions, Ohio Citizens says it has scooped up six top-quality lending officers over the past two years.

The bank aims to capitalize on the group's personal contacts and professional credentials through an aggressive ad campaign, dubbed "We mean business."

More Aggressive Posture

Ohio Citizens, a unit of National City Corp. with 31 branches in the northwestern section of the state, is running full-page ads in local newspaper and weekly publications. The ads feature a large photo of the new officers and will be supported by a direct-mail package.

Although bank officers said Ohio Citizen's share of the market had been growing steadily, they wanted to take an aggressive stance.

David Ridenour, senior vice president and one of the new executives, said local businesses were hearing gloomy news about tight credit and a shrinking economy. "We wanted to publicize that we are lending and that we want to lend," he said.

Opposed by Major Players

Mr. Showalter said his goal is to increase the bank's commercial market share by 5% by the end of 1992. The commercial banking market in the Toledo area is extremely fragmented, with major players including Fifth Third Bancorp, Ameritrust Corp., Huntington Bancshares Inc., and Banc Ohio. Ohio Citizens' parent company has long been an aggressive player in the small-business arena.

Despite the new aggressiveness, Ohio Citizens has not adopted an "open checkbook" policy, Mr. Showalter warned.

"We continue to scrutinize each business application, each corporate account, for risks," he said.

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