By Kevin J. Helmick
CEO and President, Farmers National Bank
CANFIELD, Ohio – No one would characterize this past year as business-as-usual for the banking industry. Eleven federal interest rate increases – after years of historically low and stable rates – are only one factor that made 2023 challenging to navigate for banks and their customers. Nevertheless, Farmers National Bank’s strong, stable performance demonstrated the value of our conservative management philosophy, and the pairing of a relationship-driven culture with advanced banking technologies.
Despite upward interest rates and inflationary pressures, in 2023 Farmers extended its streak of consecutive profitable quarters to 164 – which equals 41 consecutive years without a quarterly miss. The bank’s performance this past year contributed to it being named one of Newsweek’s best regional banks in America for 2024.
Prudence requires we recognize the impact of economic conditions on our industry. But our culture is one in which we don’t seek excuses but seek to outperform the market and our peers – while delivering superior value.
Reflecting the success of this culture, the bank’s total assets reached $5.08 billion in 2023, up from $4.08 billion in 2022, in part due to the successful acquisition of the coincidentally named Farmers National Bank of Emlenton in western Pennsylvania. This acquisition marks the first time Farmers has extended its presence outside Ohio.
During the pandemic, no community bank in northeastern Ohio was more proficient at getting PPP funds into the hands of small-business owners than Farmers. Nearly two years later, Farmers has largely retained the loyalty and accounts of the many small businesses it served whose needs were not met by the larger banks with whom they previously did business.
Providing capital to small businesses is at the heart of Farmers mission. As we look forward to a potentially more attractive interest-rate environment, our deep and diverse deposit base and access to a larger amount of additional funding means we are well positioned to get more capital into the hands of local businesses. This will result in our helping to drive the economies of the communities we serve.
Farmers is now fulfilling a goal established by executive management in the early 2000s of expanding and upgrading our Canfield headquarters. The newly constructed building will dedicate areas that reflect Farmers’ history dating to 1887.
Various displays will honor many past bank presidents including the first president, Alexander Dickson, who was also a school teacher, Civil War captain and Mahoning County treasurer. Weaving Farmers history and culture into this project commemorates our growth and legacy.
In the last six years, we’ve accomplished six acquisitions, with more than 50% of nonbranch acquired talent coming to work at our headquarters. Practically speaking, we need more space. Strategically, we need modern, flex space for today’s flexible workforce. But construction of this 27,000-square-foot addition is also about beautifying our historic hometown.
Areas of growth we continuously work on include increasing our budget, producing innovative programs for the public, digital content for our website and improved audience capacity and customer service. Our goal is to tell even more stories of the many diverse people who make up our working community and to serve as a unifying and edifying destination where everyone feels included and welcome.