"The people of West Central Ohio have been very loyal to our bank through the years. As we have grown and added services, more individuals and businesses have also come to appreciate the advantages our personal attention provides. I continue to believe that we are on the leading edge of banking technology in our region, and that means better service and greater access for our customers."
-J. Michael Romey, President/CEO
On January 31, 1920, the Citizens National Bank opened its doors for the first time in Bluffton, Ohio, and offered all new customers an apple in appreciation for stopping by. A review of the books from 1920 indicates that the bank began with $50,000 in capital and approximately four employees. Now, 97 years later, we have expanded our offices to Celina, Defiance, Elida, Findlay, Lima, Springfield, Toledo and Van Wert. We currently employ about 160 people and serve customers in eleven primary counties: Allen, Hancock, Putnam, Hardin, Auglaize, Mercer, Van Wert, Paulding, Clark, Defiance and Lucas.
Citizens National Bank continued to show consistent asset growth and increased earnings in 2016. Total assets grew by $44 million and net income was $1.7 million more than 2015. This growth is attributed to increased commercial lending and improved efficiency in regards to cost control and improved processes. Our strategy of relationship banking combined with real-time digital delivery of services has shown profitable results and will remain a primary focus of our bank.
Some of the new products we introduced to support that strategy in 2016 included adding an online credit card application to our website and the introduction of our new app for managing debit cards called CardValet. This free app allows our customers to turn their debit card on and off in seconds and monitor its use through alerts in order to safeguard against fraud. We also began offering Positive Pay, a product that allows business customers to review and approve all checks written prior to them being cashed. The program automatically reviews items such as check amount and payee and flags items it feels may need further review. This product has already saved some companies thousands of dollars in potential fraudulent check activity.
Citizens National Bank is consistently rated high for performance and stability. We are currently rated a 5 Star Bank by Bauer Financial and a 4 Star Bank by Bankrate.com. Additionally, we've been named a top community bank in the nation by the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA) for four years in a row.
Citizens has a unique notoriety as being one of the banks that John Dillinger robbed in 1933. History has it that on August 14, 1933, John Dillinger and his gang came to Bluffton, stole $6,000 from The Citizens National Bank, and exited the bank, guns blazing (amazingly no one was injured) as they made their escape to the north.
In October of that year, John Dillinger was brought back to Ohio and held in the Lima jail (12 miles south of Bluffton) to stand trial for the Bluffton bank robbery. On October 12, Dillinger's "gang" came into the jail claiming they were officers from Indiana and they were taking Dillinger back to stand trial there. When Sheriff Jesse Sarber asked for their credentials, they opened fire on Sarber, killing him and breaking Dillinger out of jail.
Dillinger was one of the most publicized criminals of the 20th Century. On July 22, 1934, however, Dillinger was brought down by "The Lady in Red" when he was killed by federal agents and police as he left a Chicago movie house.
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