Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Howard Boyle Takes His Best Shot: Ohio Banker Combines Love of Traditions with a Willingness to Improve on Accepted Approaches. This Helps in His Banking, His ABA Leadership, and His Winemaking

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Howard Boyle Takes His Best Shot: Ohio Banker Combines Love of Traditions with a Willingness to Improve on Accepted Approaches. This Helps in His Banking, His ABA Leadership, and His Winemaking

Article excerpt

Ordinarily, Howard Boyle is a pretty obliging fellow, a classic, can-do community banker. But he's not fully cooperating today, and you just don't argue with someone who's got a six-pounder field cannon standing behind him, a Colt Navy revolver strapped to his hip, and a sharpened cutlass hanging off his belt. You tend to listen to what they say.

"No, I can't do that," Boyle insists, shaking his bearded, forage-capped head, as he grounds his rammer--by itself a pretty formidable convincer--on his back lawn.

A photographer has just asked the normally affable Boyle to smile a bit. But Boyle, a dedicated amateur historian and longtime Civil War reenactor, declines to grin. He'll pose in his uniform as much as the photographer asks, but he won't crack a smile.

He's not being shy, just realistic. Boyle, dressed as a first sergeant of Union artillery, explains that during Civil War times, folks didn't smile for photographs. It simply wasn't done. And Boyle is a stickler for detail, so, although he's enjoying himself immensely showing off his unit's cannon in the rain, the banker looks solemn as a tintype of Abe Lincoln after First Manassas.

Honoring the traditions

As you might guess, Boyle has a thing about traditions of all kinds. When Boyle, 56, isn't "trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored," you may find him involved with a vintage of another kind ...

With a little bit of drama, Howard Boyle pours a few glasses of red. He lifts his own, toasts a guest's arrival, and sips. He "chews" the wine. Considers a moment. And pronounces judgment.

"A little bit 'oaky,' but it's not bad, not bad," he says. This is more than just a bottle of wine. It represents a blend of ongoing experiment, hobby, and family history.

Tonight's selection is the latest effort by Boyle and a cousin in their quest to capture the flavor of their Grandma Milano's homemade wine. While Boyle believes they have generally arrived at the taste of the original family recipe, he still likes to tinker and adjust.

And what Howard T. Boyle II does with wine and war, goes many more times in his banking. Boyle, president and CEO at Home Savings Bank, Kent, Ohio, runs a savings institution that has been doing traditional community banking since 1898. But for Boyle, the status quo isn't good enough, not for Kent, itself, not for Home Savings, either. For some time, he has been evolving closely held Home Savings to an updated model, respecting the proven and embracing the new. And he brings the same desire for continuing improvement to his service as the 2006-2007 chairman of the ABA Community Bankers Council.

Tinkering with savings charter

When Boyle started working for Home Savings in the mid-1970s, after his Army service ended, the thrift had $8 million in assets and four other employees. (Today it has 43 employees and $100.9 million.) For many years of its history, it might have served as a role model for the "Bailey Brothers Building and Loan" from Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."

Boyle became president in 1985. In the 1990s, the S&L's board decided it wanted to get away from its almost exclusive focus on mortgage lending. As residential mortgages increasingly became a commodity, they became an inadequate income source for a smaller lender competing with much larger providers. The board and management decided to do more commercial lending, and changed charters and regulators, becoming an FDIC-supervised savings bank.

"We felt that we needed to get more involved with lending that we could have some control over," says Boyle, "and we've been moving in more of a bank direction ever since."

Boyle says he has found ABA's National Conference for Community Bankers and other association events helpful in building the network of experienced contacts that have smoothed Home's transition.

Also helpful has been the thrift's devotion to the local market. …

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