Tell us about Capitol National Bank’s history, when was it started and who it serves.
This year the bank is celebrating its 40th year, and that’s a milestone. So, we’re celebrating all year. It was formed in 1982 by some local businessmen. Joe Reid, my father, was one of them and Joel Ferguson and Dave O’Leary from O’Leary Paint. They came together and recognized the need for a community bank in Lansing. Community banks are different from the national banks. They have a different scope, because community banks are comprised of local shareholders, local directors and they’re focused on businesses. What’s important about a community bank that differentiates it is that they’re invested in the community, they know the business owners of the other local businesses. When times get tough, like they did in the recession, they don’t pull up and leave like a lot of the larger banks.
What does your current role as chair and CEO entail, and can you give us a brief background on your experience?
The technical role is that I’m responsible for the strategic oversight of the bank, setting strategic objectives and the implementation of those objectives. When you’re at a small bank, the role is to do whatever it takes. So, I’m involved at all levels of the bank. I meet with many of the employees on a weekly basis and stay very involved in the oversight of the institution, trying to assist in ensuring that we’re staying true to what our objectives are and how can we better serve our customer.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments?
I would have to say the PPP loans. The bank president, Ed Hardin, and I met very early on in the pandemic and decided that we needed to be proactive. When the PPP program came along, we were ready. I’m proud to say that during the two rounds, we served about 1,500 businesses. We took it as it came and decided that, irrespective of whether it was profitable for the bank or not, it was our obligation to step up and help these businesses that were struggling. We did PPP loans in 32 different states. We received a lot of positive feedback like, “Wow, you saved us; we weren’t going to make it.”
You are a woman chair and CEO of a local community bank in a male-dominated industry. How does it feel to be in a league of your own?
I’ve never paid a whole lot of attention to that individually. But as I’ve gotten older, and now have three daughters, I’ve noticed it as more as a problem than I did personally. I’m pleased because it’s changing. Seven out of 80 banks headquartered in Michigan have female CEOs. But then those numbers are improving. There are more female CFOs than CEOs. And then there’s a similar number of female chairs of banks. But it’s important. I think diversity in every context is important. It’s important because it shows a different perspective on your decision-making process. There’s something you can learn from everyone. So, the more diverse group of people you have, when you’re in a boardroom, for example, the better decisions you’re going to make.