Allan Nichols Will Attempt His Magic on Citizens First

Article excerpt

Allan D. Nichols has been up and he's been down in more than 30 years on the retail banking scene. He pioneered automated teller machines in the Southeast, pushed Ranier National Bank to new marketing heights in the Northwest, and trid to irrigate the parched coffers of a thrift in the Southwest.

Now he is back in his home turf in the Northeast, eager to revive a stricken New Jersey bank with a formula that combines the pitchman's enthusiasm with the bank doctor's hard-nosed attention to the bottom line.

A Challenge

Mr. Nichols, 54, was named this week as chairman and chief executive officer of Citizens First Bancorp in Glen Rock, N.J. The $2.5 billion-asset company lost $102 million in 1990 and eked out a $3 million profit last year.

"I'm here now to bring some life, some enthusiasm, and some good balance-sheet management to Citizens First," Mr. Nichols said in a phone interview on Thursday. "It's time to put the pieces back together again."

Mr. Nichols appears well qualified for the job. For the past two years he had been chairman, chief executive, and president of American Federal Bank of Dallas, a government-assisted thrift that was bought in 1988 by Lone Star Technologies as part of the Southwest Plan.

Contest with Banking Giants

In his 18 months at American Federal, Mr. Nichols helped raise its Tier 1 capital from 2.5%, to 7%. But he said the constraints of reporting to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the struggle to compete with banking giants like NCNB Corp. and Banc One Corp. made him long to return to a commercial bank.

Mr. …