It's time to drop the old name because it gives people the wrong impression, the bank president says.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN -- The 80-year-old Metropolitan name is about to disappear from area banking.
Metropolitan National Bank soon will become part of its sister company First National Bank, which is based in Hermitage. The name will be changed after regulators approve it.
Customers won't see any change in services, and the downtown branch and commercial lending unit will remain in place, said Gary Roberts, Metropolitan president.
The bank has 20 employees at its downtown headquarters and 100 employees total at its 12 branches in Mahoning, Trumbull, Geauga and Lake counties.
Metropolitan is part of F.N.B. Corp. and is F.N.B's only banking unit that doesn't operate under the First National Bank name. F.N.B., which has its headquarters in Florida, operates banks in both states.
F.N.B. recently came out with a new logo, and it makes sense for Metropolitan to operate under the same corporate identity as the other banks within the corporation, Roberts said.
The name change will help Metropolitan, even though it is giving up a widely known name, he said.
Focus on commercial loans
Metropolitan has been focused on providing commercial loans in recent years, but it's hard to convince people that it offers more than home and car loans, he said.
"This will change our image from the old savings and loan that everyone knows and remembers to the image of what we really are -- a commercial bank," he said.
Nearly half of its loan portfolio is in commercial loans.
Also, First National Bank is a strong name, Roberts said. When people are asked to name a bank in surveys, the name given most often is First National Bank, he said.
Roberts said he will be reassigned to a corporate position within F.N.B., but the title and duties haven't been determined. He came to Metropolitan in 1997 after holding banking positions in Kansas and Colorado.
Metropolitan was founded in 1922 as Metropolitan Savings and Loan Co. by local doctor J.J. Brant, attorneys Joseph Barrett and A.M. Henderson, and insurance agent Will Jones.
Only three of Youngstown's seven savings and loan companies survived the Depression in the 1930s, and Metropolitan was one.
Its 17-story building downtown was built as the headquarters for Central Savings and Loan, one of the Depression-era casualties.
Metropolitan moved its offices there in 1976 and bought the building in 1980 for $2 million.
F.N.B. bought Metropolitan in 1985 and changed the name to Metropolitan Savings Bank. The name was changed to Metropolitan National Bank in 1997.