By Jillian R. Harman
For nearly 60 years, a financial institution has been quietly making waves, proving that a bank’s success is not just about the numbers but also the people it serves. Consumers National Bank, a community bank headquartered in Minerva, Ohio, has been serving the local community since 1965. The bank has made an impact on the region, helping local businesses thrive.
[Pictured above] (left to right) Ralph J. Lober II, President and CEO of Consumers National Bank and Scott E. Dodds, Executive Vice President, Senior Loan Officer, personally meet with business owners to understand their needs.
Consumers National Bank has grown from a small community bank primarily serving small towns and rural communities to a significant player in the commercial banking sector. Since 2018, the bank has expanded its market territory, increased its branch offices, and more than doubled its asset size.
A Bank by the People, for the People
The bank’s journey began with a group of local business owners who saw a need for a community bank that would serve the local population’s unique needs. They envisioned a bank that would not only provide financial services but also contribute to the community’s growth and development. This vision has guided Consumers National Bank’s operations over the years, shaping its approach to banking and its relationship with its customers.
The community bank business model is unique in banking. It starts with local deposits, which are used to invest in loans in the community. This investment creates stronger communities and generates profits for the bank, a portion of which are paid as dividends to primarily local shareholders.
“This cycle is fundamental to how we operate,” says Scott E. Dodds, Executive Vice President, Senior Loan Officer. “The base of our funding is made up of local capital. We have local directors and management who are focused on expanding their hometown markets. Our commercial bankers are engaged in the local communities and area more accessible. We also have access to technology that matches and often exceeds big bank capabilities.”
Consumers offers a full suite of business services, including basic and more sophisticated checking and cash management services, including zero balance accounts, merchant card processing, online bill pay, remote deposit, and payroll. The business bankers provide credit solutions to companies of all sizes. “Many people don’t realize we offer the same services available from bigger banks,” says Dodds.
Today, Consumers National Bank has grown to 195 employees, 21 branches in five counties, including nearby cities Canton, Fairlawn, Hartville, and Green, and one loan center in Boardman, its first location in Mahoning County.
The bank attributes its success to its commitment to the community. Rather than offering one-size-fits-all financial products, Consumers National Bank takes the time to understand the unique needs of its customers and provides tailored financial solutions. This personalized approach has earned the bank the trust and loyalty of its customers, many of whom have been banking with Consumers National Bank for generations.
“The money we get, the money we earn, and the people we employ are all local,” says Ralph J. Lober II, President and CEO. “We’re not big bankers working in a community bank. Almost all of us have spent our entire careers in community banking, which is wildly different than regional and national banking,” adds Dodds.
The bank’s community-centric approach extends beyond its banking services. Consumers National Bank is actively involved in the communities it serves, supporting local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community events.
The bank’s employees regularly volunteer their time and resources to support community initiatives, further strengthening the bond between the bank and the community. “We support local organizations financially and by allowing our bankers to give their time and leadership,” added Lober. For example, Dodds is Vice Chair of Cascade Capital, an Akron-based economic development finance company, and serves on the Alliance Area Habitat for Humanity board.
Consumers Bancorp, Inc., the bank’s holding company, is listed on the OTCQX marketplace, and its stock can be purchased through any brokerage. In the past seven years, the company has distributed more than $9 million in dividends to shareholders, of whom more than 1,400 are Ohio based. In support of the company’s mission, bank directors and executive officers own nearly 13% of the outstanding shares. “Local shareholder support is vital to our success. “Rewarding them is important to us,” said Lober.
Leadership with Local Roots
At the helm of Consumers National Bank is a team of dedicated professionals who are deeply rooted in the local community.
Lober has been with the bank since 2007, starting as executive vice president and chief operating officer. With a strong background in finance, funds management, and operations, Lober has been instrumental in guiding the bank’s growth and expansion. He is a certified public accountant licensed in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Before joining Consumers, Lober was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Morgan Bank National Association. He has served on the boards and executive committees of several industry and community organizations and currently serves on the board of Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio.
Dodds joined the bank in 2013. His background extends to several areas of banking, including commercial and consumer lending, mortgage lending and servicing, operations, and financial management. Dodds has played a crucial role in expanding the bank’s commercial lending team and expertise.
The bank’s leadership is driven by a dedicated Board of Directors, all of whom are from the local community. For example, board member Richard Kiko, Jr. resides in Medina. Their collective experience and commitment to the community have been instrumental in guiding the bank’s strategic direction and ensuring its continued success.
A Beacon of Resilience and Growth
Launched in 1965 as Minerva National Bank, Consumers National Bank has come a long way. Today, it is the 34th largest bank in Ohio and the 944th largest in the nation.
In 2018, the bank set a goal to double its assets from $500 million to $1 billion by June 2023. Despite the unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank reached its goal ahead of schedule, reporting $1.013 billion in assets at the end of 2022. This achievement was the result of careful planning and strategic initiatives. As of June 30, 2023, the bank’s assets total $1.06 billion.
The bank’s growth strategy included both organic expansion and acquisitions. In 2020, Consumers National Bank completed the acquisition of The Peoples National Bank of Mount Pleasant, a community bank with three locations in southern Jefferson County. Although the pandemic presented some obstacles, the bank successfully integrated the new locations and increased total deposits by 27.3%.
In 2021, Consumers acquired two CFBank branches in Wellsville and Calcutta. This May, the bank moved its Wellsville drive-up branch to a vacant 2,400-square-foot full-service facility.
American Banker magazine recently listed Consumers Bancorp among the Top 200 Publicly Traded Community Banks. Consumers ranked 41st nationally—up 60 spots from 101st—and one of only 16 Ohio banks that made the list. “Being included in the annual ranking requires a consistent focus on our customers and communities from everyone in the organization,” says Lober.
Other accolades include Top Community Bank SBA Lender Award (2016-2020) and a Top Five Lender (2021-2022) from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Cleveland District Office.
Banking on Community
While business banking has always been part of Consumers’ offerings, it wasn’t until 2007 that the bank heavily shifted focus to commercial lending. “We still do consumer and residential mortgages, but our focus on commercial lending and deposits is what has really grown the bank,” says Lober.
While there may have been confusion in the past with other banks, Consumers National Bank stands by its brand. “Our name is sometimes a conversation starter. Our lenders have been out in the community and are now so well known that the people who need to know—the business owners, CPAs, the lawyers, the developers—know we’re a player in the commercial market,” says Lober.
One of Consumers National Bank’s key advantages is its ability to make decisions locally. Unlike larger banks, where decisions are often made in distant corporate offices, Consumers utilizes its local people who understand the local market, which enables the bank to respond quickly and has been an integral factor in its success.
“We want businesses to come to us first, not a middleman, so we can get to know them first hand,” Lober says. “There isn’t a significant commercial loan in our portfolio where I, Scott, or Suzanne Mikes, our Chief Credit Officer, haven’t gone out and met the customer. We might not be able to say yes right out of the gate, but we will continue to work with them and consult with them until the business is ready to take the next step.”
A Trusted Adviser
Consumers National Bank aims to be more than just a bank for its customers. It strives to be a trusted adviser, working closely with businesses to understand their needs and help them achieve their goals. “When we ask business owners who their advisers are, they’ll name their accountant and attorney. Most never mention their banker. We see that as an opportunity. We want to be that third trusted consultant and work with them as they grow. We want to know their plans and set them up for the long term,” says Lober.
Dodds adds, “That’s why our commercial loans don’t run through our branches. No matter what size your business is or what size commercial loan you need, you’ll work with one of our commercial lenders because we want to know what’s going on with your business from the beginning.”
“We have seasoned bankers deeply familiar with and engaged in their local markets,” says Dodds. “They know how to put your deal together and become your trusted adviser right off the bat. Other bank models bring someone in for a day who doesn’t know the local market or culture. We think that’s important. We have 11 bankers in-market. We see that as a commitment to our local communities.”
The bank’s commercial lending portfolio is diverse, with a significant portion dedicated to commercial real estate. However, the bank also specializes in businesses that produce a product or service and generate cash, such as manufacturing, trucking, investment real estate, construction, and housing development. “We feel we can help them the most,” says Lober. “We have experts in manufacturing, and we have experts in cash flow management. In any business, cash flow is everything. If we can help a business or an individual with their cash flow concerns, that’s where we can be of the most benefit.”
To understand the impact Consumers National Bank has had on the region you need only look at the projects it has helped fund.
For example, Consumers recently helped Castle Aviation to secure an SBA loan for a new 50,000-square-foot hangar at the Akron-Canton airport. Castle Aviation had gradually transitioned all of its banking to Consumers National Bank. “Laura Horovitz (Vice President, Business Banking Officer) became an integral part of our business,” says Michael Grossman, Owner and CEO.
When troubles with the FAA required a greater investment than initially anticipated, Horovitz found a way to fund it. “Laura has always taken good care of me,” says Grossman. “I didn’t like the big bank feel. In my opinion, they’re not very personable. You’re just a number, but it’s not that way at Consumers. The bank helps clients create the necessary plans and strategies to achieve their goals. That’s what they continue to do for us.”
Andy Troutman, Owner of The Winery at Wolf Creek, also turned to Consumers. “I have been a business owner and in the wine business for 25 years and have experience with a number of big banks,” says Troutman. “I felt like we were just a number in their system, and the products and services we were offered never seemed to fit our business. It wasn’t until I switched to Consumers that I saw the advantages of a community bank. They are easy to work with and have developed a relationship with us. The people at Consumers took the time to understand our business, our needs, and what we value as a company. They tailored banking solutions to us, whether for routine sales operations or financing a new project. They are a vital partner and key to the success of our company.”
Consumers National Bank is poised for continued growth. The bank’s earnings have increased from $3.6 million in fiscal 2018 to $11.2 million in fiscal 2022, a compounded annual growth rate of 32.8%.
But the bank’s success is not measured solely in numbers. It’s seen in the thriving businesses it has helped to grow, the community projects it has supported, and the deep relationships it has built with its customers. “We see our success in the success of our customers and our community,” says Lober. “Our growth is their growth, and we are proud to be a part of that.”
As Consumers National Bank continues to grow, it remains steadfast in its mission. The bank is committed to maintaining its personalized approach to service, its focus on local decision-making, and its dedication to community involvement. These core values have guided the bank’s journey so far and will continue to shape its path moving forward.
“We are excited about the future and committed to continuing to serve our customers and the community,” says Lober.
By concentrating on community, Consumers National Bank is compounding interest in the local economy, stimulating growth, and helping to build a stronger, more vibrant region.
Board of Directors
- Laurie McClellan, Chairman, Retired, Consumers National Bank
- Ralph J. Lober II, President & CEO Consumers National Bank
- Frank Paden, Vice Chair
- John Furey, Retired, Fury’s Wheel World
- Ann Gano, CPA, Owner, Keeping Tabs, Inc.
- Bradley Goris, Managing Member, Goris Properties
- Richard Kiko, Jr., President & Chair Coletta Holdings
- John W. Parkinson, President, Appalachian Capital Management
- Harry W. Schmuck, Jr., Operations Mgr., Schmuck Partnership
- Michael A. Wheeler, President & CLO, Patriot Software
- Shawna L’Italien, Partner, Harrington, Hoppe, and Mitchell
614 East Lincoln Way
Minerva, OH 44657
3680 Embassy Parkway, Suite B
Fairlawn, OH 44333
4086 Massillon Road
Green, OH 44685
1215 W. Maple Street
Hartville, OH 44632
610 West State Street
Alliance, OH 44601
1111 North Chapel Street
Louisville, OH 44641
4026 Dressler Road NW
Canton, OH 44718