Savvy adviser leads a surge

Savvy adviser leads a surge

 

Huntington Bank’s considerable success in northwest Ohio begins and ends with its willingness to “have a local banker see a loan through, from start to finish,” second-generation real estate industry client and former Huntington director Jerry Sawicki III said.

Huntington Bank’s considerable success in northwest Ohio begins and ends with its willingness to “have a local banker see a loan through, from start to finish,” second-generation real estate industry client and former Huntington director Jerry Sawicki III said.1

Sawicki’s father, Jerry Sawicki Jr., started banking with Huntington following the bank’s purchase of Lucas County Savings Bank. The local real estate developer was a director of the regional bank when it was sold to Huntington. Starting in 1953, he built Sawicki Real Estate into a leading real estate developer in the region.2

Valuing the perspective of such a successful local businessman, Huntington Bank asked Sawicki to serve on its board, too. Surely Sawicki, who died in 2011, was the board’s only jazz saxophonist with several recordings to his name.3

Over time, the Sawickis — Jerry III took over the company with his brother-in-law in 1984 — pursued a vertical-integration strategy, adding lumber, excavation, construction, financing and insurance businesses. Although the company had a choice of many banks, it consistently worked with Huntington as it expanded and as its financing and banking needs grew more complex.

“When we started offering financing to our clients, we arranged to borrow the money from Huntington and turn around and lend it to our clientele,” he said.4

After following his father into the leadership of the family business, Sawicki followed him onto the Huntington board beginning in the early 1990s. Serving on the board for nearly a dozen years enabled him to get to know senior management from Columbus and the regional managers in northwest Ohio. He had a renewed appreciation for the role of centralized risk, internal controls and regulatory functions.5

Learning from his work as a director about the competitive strategies of some of the rival Ohio and national banking behemoths underscored for him what a competitive advantage Huntington had in its local focus.

“Huntington has always been known for local decision-making authority,” Sawicki said. “Their local bankers knew the clients and knew the markets best.”

By the time Sawicki retired about two decades ago, the company had built more than 2,000 homes and 2,000 apartments in Toledo, Maumee, Perrysburg, Defiance, Genoa and nearby communities. He remains active in business and an active client of Huntington, as is his son.

“Huntington is one heck of a bank,” he said. “I look forward to a long relationship with them.”6