GAB among nation’s best-performing community banks

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — An organization with its sights set on more growth, German American Bancorp was recently named one of the best-performing community banks in the nation in 2018.

German American, which has been based in Jasper for more than a century, came in at the No. 21 spot on a Top 50 list published by S&P Global Market Intelligence that ranked the nation’s thriving community banks.

“It’s a nice recognition,” Mark Schroeder, CEO and chairman of German American Bank, said of the placement. “Our teams work hard to kind of get the bank to where it is recognized nationally as one of the top performing institutions. What I like about this rating is it’s not on one thing, it’s on several different measures that they look at in total.”

Those metrics include pretax return on tangible common equity, net charge-offs as a percentage of average loans, efficiency ratio, adjusted Texas ratio, net interest margin and loan growth. Only banks with $3 billion to $10 billion in assets that met a list of criteria were included in the report.

Schroeder attributed the company’s success to its employees and business model. During the past 25 years, German American has acquired and merged with 19 other community bank organizations in Indiana and Kentucky. The organization boasts a staff of more than 800 employees, working in 65 offices located in 20 contiguous Indiana counties and four counties in Kentucky.

“As I said, we’re really a combination of 20 community banks, but today I would argue that we’re … it’s like a mutual fund of 10 larger community banks that have banded together,” Schroeder said.

He has served as German American’s CEO for the past two decades, and in that time, he said the bank has “grown on the shoulders of those that came before us.” German American has intentionally selected its expansion locations in recent years — the Indiana cities of Bloomington, Evansville and Columbus, to name a few — and Schroeder said the organization looks for markets like Jasper that are comprised of many locally owned businesses.

The company has already investigated where it could grow in the future. A metropolitan market like Indianapolis has been considered, but other options stick out to Schroeder.

“As we looked, quite honestly, markets like Owensboro, Kentucky; Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Lexington look and feel much more like places like Jasper and Columbus and Evansville to us,” Schroeder said. “Our focus will be continuing certainly to grow where our footprint is here in Indiana, but where we really see probably our largest growth potential is on the Indiana side of the Louisville side of the MSA and in Owensboro, Bowling Green and Lexington.”

If German American does enter a metro market, Schroeder said it will probably be Louisville.

Even as the bank grows outward, bank leadership remains mindful of its purpose.

“To me, having grown up here at German American, a community bank is one that the people that work there are embedded in that community,” Schroeder said. “They live there. They work there. They have the best interest of the community at heart.”

He continued: “And it’s an organization that focuses on not just offering banking services in the community, but it reinvests back in those communities. A true community bank understands that for the bank to grow and prosper, the community or communities that they serve have to grow and prosper. For us, investing back in the community — not just here at home base, but in every community we’re in — it truly is an investment.”




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