Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

September 16, 2013 Shop Talk

Q&A With Michael D. Hewitt Of Hometown Bank

Michael D. Hewitt, President and CEO, Hometown Bank, Oxford

When Matthew Sosik recently left Hometown Bank to take over as president of Easthamption Savings Bank, Hometown turned to senior vice president and industry veteran Michael Hewitt as his replacement. He has more than 30 years of diverse experience in the commercial and retail banking industry, including the role of executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief lending officer at Fidelity Co-operative Bank in Leominster.

You have many years of banking experience, notably here in Central Massachusetts. Is a presidency something you've been seeking?

Probably all my life, I suppose. You always dream of reaching a top goal. That's something that (I wouldn't have considered myself) a failure if I didn't. I really just enjoy banking; I have for 35-plus years.

How well positioned is Hometown Bank in this area, compared with the many community banks that still thrive here, as well as credit unions and, of course, the big players?

We're one of the top-rated financially performing banks in not only the state, but the country, for our size.

With the acquisition of Athol-Clinton Cooperative Bank a couple of years back, and your oversight of that, how much of a challenge did that present for you?

It was very challenging, I would say. But the merger and the marriage, putting it together, was a great win for our institution.

And how much of a challenge for the people who worked at both banks at the time?

I think nervous at the beginning would be (the way to describe) the Athol-Clinton employees because they didn't know what was going to happen to them. In the end, I think that you could go to the employees — we kept most of them — (and find) that they are happier and (were) really bought into the Hometown culture.

On the Hometown side, it certainly was a strain, or (they were) challenged, to take on additional people, additional branches and merge the team in and make them part of the Hometown culture. A lot of hard work, but they all enjoyed it as well and welcomed the new family. And we are a family bank.

The recent increase in mortgage lending rates has caused some upheaval in that part of the industry, especially in the refinance market. How do you see things playing out over the next year in the residential lending market?

It's slowed down a little bit, not that much for us. Rates are still historically low, even with a little uptick. And on both the residential and commercial sides, we're still seeing great demand in our markets.

How should a business owner be prepared today if he or she wants to come in here and ask for a loan?

Commercial lending is a process. And we think we're very good at advising small business owners, taking them through and holding their hand. That's what's good about a community bank. You're not a number here. We really do care about our local business and about our local community. And we'll help to do the best thing and help them be structured in a loan that is proper for them. And if it makes sense to do it with the appropriate risk, we'll go forward with the loan.

Will the personal touch at a retail bank such as Hometown ever go out of style?

I do not believe it will. I think that's why you'll always have a need for a hometown, community bank. You have large banks, and I have a background (in large banks, with KeyBank, based in Cleveland). Not to say anything (is) wrong with any of the large banks. They have a process, they have a lot of bells and whistles that they are going to offer a customer, but they cannot offer knowing every customer that walks in the door. Every one of our customers can call me on my cell phone anytime and get me. Or, I'll call them back if I'm not immediately available. That's the beauty of a community bank.


Shop Talk - Michael D. Hewitt, Hometown Bank

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF