The First Community Financial Bank Naperville named a new president last week: 58-year-old Lou Petritz.
His predecessor, J. Patrick Benton, has no qualms about where the bank goes from here. Petritz is a veteran banker who Benton says has worked in town in several other banking positions. He knows the community well.
“Lou is a good choice as the new president due to his level of commitment and knowledge here of the community,” Benton said. “I probably met him 15 years ago when we worked on a United Way project, and he’s a very well-connected person with an excellent commercial lending background that will help build the bank’s commercial lending portfolio.”
Petritz graduated from Rockford College in 1977 with a double major in philosophy and political science. At one time, he considered law school as his future profession but changed his mind.
“I did a couple of internships with some attorneys and found that I didn’t like it very much,” Petritz said. “I realized I had to make a living at something, so I went to school at night over the next 10 years and got my MBA from Northern Illinois.”
Petritz went to work in Rockford for a couple of finance companies who he said would hire people with no experience but showed “a basic intelligence” and found that he loved the business.
“I worked for a number of Rockford finance companies and found out that I had a knack for the business and things just kind of progressed from there,” he said.
During the next few decades, Petritz found himself working for several institutions, including serving as the president of the Gary-Wheaton Bank of Fox Valley, the First Colonial Bank of DuPage County, and the American Chartered Bank.
The leadership position at First Community Financial Bank interested him for several reasons.
“I was attracted to the smaller, medium-sized bank idea for some time, since here in Naperville, a lot of the banks have been bought and rolled up, and a lot of them are no longer locally owned,” Petritz said. “I still feel there is a need for locally managed banks that fill a niche and serve the needs of local businesses.”
Petritz said more than 50 percent of the bank’s current customers are based in Naperville, and he describes banks like his as being “more nimble” as well as offering more personal service than the larger conglomerates.
“We absolutely know our customers and when it comes to making decisions, we can be a lot more nimble,” he said. “When you work with some of the larger banks, customers get lost. We feel a bank like ours is the right size for small businesses. It’s the same as being a small business and not needing a big law firm in Chicago where you’ll get lost.”
Petritz says that growing the bank remains the focus — a task, he said, that remains challenging. Ideally, he said, bank customers and their businesses need to grow, and the bank also needs to continue to find new customers.
“Growth, today, is very challenging, and many banks are in the same position,” he said. “Many banks are well capitalized, but if you have money in your investment portfolio you’re basically earning zero. For banks to continue to grow, you have to have loans and for that, you need small businesses to grow. If they don’t, the bank won’t grow.”
The Petritz family, which includes his wife and two children ages 20 and 17, have lived in Naperville since 1983. Petritz said he has moved a few times but lives in the Saybrook subdivision, which he likens to Andy Griffith’s small community of Mayberry.
“When we moved there, all the neighbors brought cakes and biscuits, and the kids all go out and play in the street, and I would joke that it seemed like Mayberry,” he said. “The more you travel around the country and the world — the more you appreciate Naperville and all the things we have here and the quality of life.”