The Michigan Bankers Association recently honored County National Bank Chairman and CEO Craig Connor as Michigan’s 2019 Banker of the Year.
“It was very special for me personally, but it also was quite a statement about our bank,” Connor said. “What’s interesting about that award, is they’ve been giving out the award since 1981, and our bank has had two prior winners, Jim Tamblin in ’86 and Norm Rogers in 2001, so to be the third one was kind of cool.”
The award somewhat caught him off-guard. “I was surprised. There’s a nomination process that people go about, and John Waldron, the board,a lot of other friends and associates put together, I guess, quite a nomination package for me to submit to the MBA selection committee and the board of directors, and I knew nothing about it,” he said.
Connor has done it all in a 41-year banking career, “I didn’t really go to school to be a banker, I knew finance, accounting, economics, and I had an opportunity, hired as an assistant manager and stuck with it ever since,” Connor said. “Started at the bottom, running a teller drawer, opening the vault, making loans, collecting loans, some other things made for a well-rounded start to my career for sure.” Connor noted that banking has changed significantly since 1978. Of course, technology has improved, but so has regulation, which he says isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “The technology that’s out there that we use makes us so much more productive, and the other thing that’s changed is the overall management of banks. I’ve been attending board meetings for 26 years at our bank, and the board oversight…that the board has and the management has, and is required by the regulators which that regulation burden has increased substantially, but it really has made for a better managed industry.”
WKHM’s Greg O’Connor asked him if he had any advice for future bankers, “It is a very rewarding career, we get to sit back and take a first row seat to watching capitalism at work. Especially as you move up higher in the organization, it’s just extremely rewarding to be investing in the community, helping customers and stakeholders. Those would be not only that group but also the employees, watching them grow, and the communities, watching them grow.”
Craig Connor is the featured guest on our Business Class Podcast. His episode premieres July 15.