Farmers will close two branches

By Jamison Cocklin


Farmers National Bank has notified regulators of its intent to close two under-utilized branches in Trumbull and Columbiana counties, beginning Oct. 1.

In a news release Tuesday, the bank said declining transactions, more online banking and other Farmers branches close to the locations at 16 Walnut St. in Leetonia and at 2910 Youngstown Road in Warren led management to make the decision.

It was unclear Tuesday how many employees work at the Leetonia and Warren locations. The bank refused to answer any additional questions related to the closures.

According to the press release, “Farmers is dedicated to assisting affected employees in identifying and securing open positions within the company during the notification period.” Customer accounts at the affected locations will be transferred to other branches.

The Leetonia branch is 4.5 miles west of the Columbiana branch, and the Warren branch is 2.1 miles west of the Eastwood Mall area location. The bank stressed in its release that the news will not affect its 17 other branches.

The bank continues to search for efficiencies in its business model.

In a recent interview with The Vindicator, President and Chief Executive John S. Gulas said the bank has been focused on growing its fee-based revenue by venturing into wealth-management and investment services.

Low interest rates, new lending rules and reluctant consumers have put pressure on lending at nearly all banks in recent years.

On Monday, Farmers announced that it had completed the acquisition of Cleveland-based consultancy firm National Associates Inc., which administers more than 200 retirement plans and has $500 million under management.

When it first announced the deal last month, Farmers said it expected NAI’s balance sheet to be reflected in its second-quarter earnings report.

In 2009, Farmers acquired the Butler Wick Trust Co. from United Community Financial Corp., the holding company of Home Savings and Loan Co., and rebranded it as Farmers Trust Co. The trust company provides investment trust and estate services, generating fees from wealth management.

Since December 2009, the bank has grown revenue by 16.2 percent, while total assets have increased by 12.3 percent, according to data filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The bank has reported positive earnings for 121 consecutive quarters.

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