By Kalea Hall
In the beginning of 2014, Home Savings and Loan Co. was a $1.6 billion institution.
By the beginning of 2017, the Youngstown-based bank will be a $2.5 billion institution.
For the first time in a long time, United Community Financial Corp., the parent company of Home Savings, has made an agreement to acquire another institution and grow its assets.
That acquisition with Ohio Legacy Corp., parent company of Premier Bank and Trust, is valued at $40.3 million.
“It’s a big first step,” said Gary Small, president and chief executive officer of Home Savings. “It’s not our last step. It’s a really important first step.”
The last acquisition for UCFC was made in 2002 with Potters National Bank.
Since 2013, the bank has worked to raise capital and grow organically. It looked for not only the right market to grow in, but to grow with the institution that had assets it did not.
UCFC is currently a $2.1 billion institution with 31 Home Savings retail banking offices and 12 loan production offices in Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The acquisition, once complete at the end of the first quarter in 2017, will bring Home Savings to 35 locations.
It also gives the bank a “robust” asset and trust management business, which it does not have currently, and a physical footprint in Stark and Summit counties.
Premier Bank & Trust is headquartered in North Canton, with four full-service banking centers in North Canton, Fairlawn and St. Clairsville.
Though Home Savings has no locations in those areas, it does have a market there with close to $100 million in mortgage and commercial loans in Stark and Summit counties.
“We are very familiar with that area,” Small said.
Ohio Legacy has about $320 million in total assets.
“I think it’s good for all of the team across the [Mahoning] Valley,” Small said. “It gives the community an even more substantial institution that is headquartered here in the Valley.”
Small called the acquisition with Ohio Legacy a perfect match for UCFC.
With the merger, UCFC will add Ohio Legacy’s current chairman, Louis Altman, to its board of directors. Rick Hull, Ohio Legacy’s president and CEO, and Denise Penz, Ohio Legacy’s executive vice president and COO, will join Home Savings as regional president and head of wealth management, respectively.
“The opportunity to partner with Home Savings provides our team the ability to expand relationships that had been constrained because of our size, and to continue providing the exceptional personal service our clients have come to expect,” Hull said in a statement.
Small expects continued growth for Home Savings in the future, especially with loans.
In July, Home Savings reported $5.3 million, up from $4.1 million reported in the second quarter of 2015.
Home Savings reported total loans increased by $182.4 million to $1.4 billion. Total deposits increased $16.5 million to $1.5 billion from the second quarter of 2015. Net interest income was $15.5 million in the second quarter of 2016, up from the $13.9 million recorded in the second quarter of 2015.
“At the end of the day, [we are] a much stronger franchise in the Valley,” Small said.