Gulas ousted as president, ceo at Farmers National Bank

By Jamison Cocklin


John S. Gulas has been ousted as president and chief executive officer of Farmers National Banc Corp., the parent company of Farmers National Bank.

News of his termination came in a press release issued late Friday and followed a decision made Monday by the company’s board of directors, said Amber Wallace, spokeswoman at the bank.

“I can’t say more,” Wallace said. “The only thing I will tell you is that this had nothing to do with the safety and soundness of the bank.”

When asked if Gulas and the board had been at odds, or whether the bank’s shareholders played any role in his ousting, Wallace said she “could not confirm that.”

She declined to answer any further questions, citing an employment or confidentiality agreement between the board and Gulas.

A call to Gulas seeking comment was not returned Friday.

Gulas had been with the bank for about five years. In June 2011, with the retirement of former president and CEO Frank Paden, Gulas was appointed top executive of the company.

Between the bank and the Farmers Trust Co., the company has about $2 billion in assets.

To be sure, the bank has made strides in recent years, but some gains came before Gulas was appointed to lead the bank.

Revenue has grown by 16.2 percent, while total assets have increased by 12.3 percent since December 2009.

For 122 consecutive quarters, the bank has reported a profit and paid a dividend during each. In the past two years, shareholder return was 79 percent, and the company’s stock appreciated by more than 25 percent in 2012.

However, net income was down in the second quarter of this year compared with last quarter, and during a recent interview with The Vindicator, Gulas said he, along with other executives at the bank, were focused more intently on growing the company’s fee-based revenue as interest rates have remained low and cut into lending.

Over the summer, the company announced that it had completed the acquisition of the Cleveland-based consultancy firm NAI Associates Inc., which administers 200 retirement plans and has $500 million under management.

The board has appointed Kevin J. Helmick, who has been a senior-level executive at the company since 2008, to serve as interim president and CEO until a permanent replacement can be found.

Wallace said she doesn’t yet know if that search has started.

Farmers National Bank is Youngstown’s seventh-largest bank, with more than $760 million in deposits and an 8.38 percent share of the market in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, as well as Mercer County in Pennsylvania.

The company’s stock is traded on the NASDAQ, where shares closed at $6.30 on Friday before news of the board’s decision was announced.

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