He may not have been there since the beginning, but Claude Davis is the spirit behind the success of First Financial Bancorp.
Sure, the bank started in 1863 and Davis didn’t become president and CEO until 2004, but he brought with him a fresh ingenuity that helped turn the bank around in a time when banks across the country are crying mercy.
Building that success came from putting the First Financial family together under one umbrella. When Davis first took over, First Financial was acting as a group of small, independently run community banks with a loose affiliation. While Davis wanted to keep the essence of a community bank, he also wanted to build a common identity that would help the overall business.
Like so many things, it began with a name. Davis had each community bank come under the First Financial Bank brand. While this could have alienated longtime clients who were used to the old names, Davis leveraged the already-strong community ties each bank had to reassure people that they would continue to have a good relationship with their bank.
Internally, Davis worked to further unify his people by helping them understand that the changes the bank was undergoing were to eliminate processes that were redundant. Like a fresh entrepreneur selling his vision, Davis visited his locations regularly to discuss the new direction with employees and answer any questions they had.
Within two years of his arrival, Davis successfully consolidated the banks under one company with one name and one brand. With that basic reorganization completed, the bank began executing the business plan with new efficiency while furthering growth and better managing the balance sheet.
How to reach: First Financial Bancorp, (513) 979-5800 or www.bankatfirst.com