Given that First National Bank celebrated its 90th Anniversary last year and the Bank’s Bluffton Branch celebrates its 20th Anniversary in August of this year, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back in time. How did First National get started, and what principles can the Bank point to for its direction and philosophy?
Without getting bogged down with too many details, here are the basics. The idea for a Pandora bank apparently came from two local businessmen, J.A. Huffman and C. Henry Smith. The Bank officially opened its doors on June 19, 1919, in Pandora, OH. The bank had 30 original shareholders and 7 board members. In 1922, the Bank merged with the Farmers Bank Company, also a Pandora institution. 35 years later, Huffman published a booklet celebrating the history of the bank to date. The booklet, “The Story of a Better Bank,” identified Huffman and Smith’s secrets to successful banking. Their three main tenets are as follows:
- A good bank must be owned and operated largely by the people of the community, themselves.
- A good and successful bank can be organized only where there are strong and constant economic resources.
- That the success of a rural bank can only be assured by community loyalty, sustained by a high-grade citizenship, supported by morals and religion.
According to Huffman, the Pandora community satisfied each of these ideas and First National was able to establish itself as a viable community bank. And now, the communities of Findlay and Bluffton also fit the model established by the Pandora community. The Bank is still locally owned by shareholders and all of the Bank’s employees live in the local area. In spite of numerous economic challenges over the years, this corner of northwest Ohio has managed to remain relatively strong and there are constant economic resources—farming, manufacturing, higher education, to name a few—to support the Bank and the community. And finally, the communities of Pandora, Findlay, and Bluffton have been loyal to First National Bank and have supported its growth. Employees and clients alike have sustained the Bank by prescribing to Huffman’s “high-grade citizenship.” This may sound a little old-fashioned, but being old-fashioned may not be all bad.