John Kanas has never been your run-of-the-mill community bank executive. In his 19 years at the helm of North Fork Bancorp., Mr. Kanas has relied on acquisitions and savvy marketing to build a $55 million-asset bank on the eastern end of Long Island into a $4.1 billion regional dynamo that will soon enter New York City.

In the process, he has won plaudits from analysts and scorn from neighboring bank and thrift executives who resent his tough-handed ways at bringing about acquisitions and forcing improvements in institutions his bank takes a stake in.

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