New CEO: WesBanco To Stay The Course

WHEELING – Todd Clossin’s philosophy as he prepares to take over as WesBanco’s new CEO on Thursday brings to mind an old saying: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

CEO Paul Limbert is retiring Wednesday after 37 years with WesBanco, including the past 12 years as its top executive. He leaves the bank in a strong financial position, and with that in mind, Clossin said his focus will be on seeking out opportunities for continued growth for WesBanco – but at the same time on maintaining its identity as a community bank that builds strong relationships with its customers.

“The bank’s been extremely successful. It’s been here for 144 years,” Clossin said. “I don’t have any big strategic changes in mind.”

The bank’s board of directors made the appointment official last week, but the opportunity to take over as CEO upon Limbert’s retirement was a big reason Clossin made the jump from Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank, where he served as chief administrative officer, to join WesBanco as executive vice president and chief operating officer in November.

He’s spent the past several months getting to know both the company and the community, and he likes what he’s seen so far.

As “recent empty-nesters” with three children in college, Clossin and his wife Paula, who has family in West Virginia, felt this was the right time to make such a move. They now make their home in St. Clairsville.

“This feels very comfortable for us,” he said. “People have been very friendly. … I also like to fish quite a bit, so I’m looking forward to getting out there as the weather gets nicer.”

Clossin said WesBanco’s overall strength as an organization was another strong selling point for the move.

The company has increased its dividends to shareholders in seven of the last 13 quarters, representing a 57 percent overall increase over that period. The bank emerged from the so-called Great Recession relatively unscathed, and that stability was recognized earlier this month when the New York investment banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods named WesBanco to its annual honor roll, highlighting banks that have grown their earnings per share consistently over the last decade, regardless of the economic environment. WesBanco was one of just 31 banks to make the list.

Geographically, the bank is in prime position to benefit from the natural gas drilling boom, as Clossin said 71 percent of the bank’s service area is in the hotbed of Marcellus and Utica shale drilling activity. The bank has seen its deposits increase 4.2 percent, or $209.5 million, from the same time last year – growth it attributes in part to a surge in drilling-related payments to landowners. It also has seen loan growth in both commercial and residential real estate in drilling-impacted areas.

Those additional assets have allowed WesBanco to grow into larger markets such as Pittsburgh and Columbus. In mid-2012, the company acquired Fidelity Bancorp, and in March announced plans to build a $4 million branch at Southpointe, Pa.

Even with extending its reach into those markets, Clossin doesn’t envision WesBanco outgrowing Wheeling as its corporate base of operations.

“We love Wheeling. It’s been our home for a long time as a bank. … I see no reason why that won’t continue for many, many years to come,” Clossin said.

With approximately 400 employees in Wheeling, most of those at the bank’s downtown headquarters, Clossin is very aware of WesBanco’s importance to the community.

“I take that responsibility seriously, as did Paul and his predecessors,” he said. “We want Wheeling to be better because our company is here.”

As CEO, Clossin sees communication as his biggest responsibility. He said the nature of the job requires some time behind a desk, but he most enjoys the “people aspect” of his role – meeting with employees and the bank’s management team communicating the company’s vision, speaking with shareholders and customers and engaging with the community.

“I get to know a lot of our customers very well, and I really enjoy that. … I’m not one to sit in my office eight hours a day,” Clossin said.

Clossin is a 1984 graduate of Mount Union College who earned an MBA from the University of Akron in 1988. He joined Fifth Third Bank in 2001, heading up the bank’s Midwest, MidSouth and Florida regions as well as its operations in Tennessee.

Those years have brought a number of changes to the banking industry. Competition is coming from directions never imagined 15 or 20 years ago – online retailer Amazon, for example, has entered the small business loan market – and technological advancements such as online and mobile banking have brought customers unprecedented convenience.

Despite those changes, Clossin said WesBanco still recognizes the importance of brick-and-mortar bank branches: Allowing customers to do business in whatever manner is most comfortable for them.

“It used to be you banked with the bank when it was convenient for the bank. Now, you bank with the bank when it’s convenient for you, and that’s been a huge change,” Clossin said.