Jack Kuntz was welcomed as the new president of American Savings Bank (ASB) Oct. 23 at ASB’s annual shareholder meeting. Kuntz is stepping in after the very long career of his predecessor, Bob Smith. Smith took a two-year hiatus in 2011, before stepping back to the position again in 2013 to serve as President until the bank could find a suitable successor.
With a résumé ranging from electric car creation, being a township trustee and holding chairs on over a dozen committees and organizations, Kuntz has devoted his life to the business and banking world. Kuntz was one of the top names on Smith’s list of possible successors and Smith is glad to be handing the reins of the bank over to Kuntz, not only due to the 20-year business relationship between the two and his long list of accomplishments, but because ASB is most excited about his connections in Cincinnati banking.
ASB has been growing steadily in recent years, expanding from two branches to seven since 1998. The most recent addition came last year, when ASB acquired a small bank in Cincinnati. With a whole new community of “untapped” people and businesses, ASB hopes to extend out into the Cincinnati area and further its growth even more. Kuntz’s experience in Cincinnati banking and his long list of contacts makes him perfect for that venture. Kuntz lives near Cincinnati and will be spending one day a week in ASB’s Cincinnati branches while he reaches out to the community. Kuntz has committed four of his business days to the Portsmouth location, since he says that Portsmouth will always serve as the administrative headquarters no matter how big ASB grows in future years.
“Well, I see a strong presence and domination in southern Ohio with our presence, but the opportunities we have in Cincinnati from the acquisition that was done almost a year ago is extraordinary. I think there is a need for American in the Cincinnati region. I’m from Cincinnati, I know the market and I know what the needs are of the small business people and residents in those areas and I see extraordinary growth opportunity in the Cincinnati market. My charge is to continue to grow in the Portsmouth area and southern Ohio, while aggressively increasing the market share in the Cincinnati region. I’m going to keep the traditions that have been set in place for 121 years at American, while aggressively pursuing Cincinnati growth and become a part of the community of Portsmouth, spending most of my time as American’s President in Portsmouth.”
Smith agrees with Kuntz’s eagerness to grow into the Cincinnati region, “Most of our shareholders are from this area, so anything we do to grow the bank is going to make them more prosperous,” Smith said. “We’ve always felt that once we get someone through our door and greet them, they’re our customer. We just give such good service that the regional banks can’t give and we just want to get them in.”
Leigh Anne Smith, AVP/Human Resource, Marketing and Investor Relations Director, said she was pleasantly surprised when she received a call from the Cincinnati branch just days after Kuntz accepted the position, asking questions regarding the bank. Smith said Kuntz would also make appearances in the Portsmouth location before joining payroll.
“He’s excited to be a part of the team and that is infectious, even though I keep telling him he isn’t getting paid yet,” said Smith. “It’s obvious he’s passionate about community banking and concerned about learning our corporate culture. He’s been a whirlwind so far and I can’t see that slowing down. It’s good to have him as an official part of the family.”
Kuntz says that growth in any location means growth for Portsmouth.
“I’ve been in contact with Leigh Anne a lot about trying to learn about the community of Portsmouth,” Kuntz said. “American Savings is not new to me though; I have a 20-year history of working with the bank. I worked with them through my banking technology company, Intrieve Inc, and have since kept up with Bob.”
Kuntz said that banking is his entire career.
“I was a teller in a bank in Cincinnati before I was even old enough to drive a car. I worked at Buckeye Savings and Loan,” Kuntz said. “I used to take the bus to work and get off at the Plaza. I’d go in and run loan payments that came in through the mail and wait on customers when they came in. After graduating from Xavier, I worked with a business whose clientele was almost exclusively banks and savings loans around the Cincinnati area. From there I went into Franklin Savings and served as their CFO for a period of time before moving into bank technology.”
Kuntz worked with Intrieve for 22 years and served as chief executive officer. Later, Kuntz pursued some entrepreneurial ventures. He then went to Franklin Savings & Loan for eight years, where he served as bank president. More of his credentials can be found at JackKuntz.com.
“I’ve been a community banker. I believe in community banks; it’s a passion of mine. I believe that community banks are the core of our national economy. Without community banks, the small and medium-sized businesses in our country wouldn’t be able to fund their growth and their operations. The larger banks we compete with, some being across the street, are not, in my opinion, as interested in helping the small business people as a community bank is and that is what American Savings does.”
The ASB employees that have had a chance to work with Kuntz and get to know him have realized that while he is qualified to run and grow the bank, he is also very down to earth. Kuntz has even been known to jam out as a drummer to benefit local fundraisers and events.
“We’re business people. We have checking accounts and CDs, but what’s more important, and I mean more important, is giving back to the community. The medical screening we are giving (ASB is teaming up with KDMC for a Health Fair on Friday in Wheelersburg) is just the beginning of what we will be doing to get the word out that yes, we are your bank, but we’re your friends, too. We’re involved in the university and the hospitals and the things that are important to Portsmouth. It’s more than just selling a product,” Kuntz said.