MERRILLVILE | Centier Bank reported $6.8 million earnings for the third quarter, which is down from the $7.2 million in profits the privately owned bank announced during the same period last year.
However, Centier, the largest independent bank in Indiana, saw its earnings increase over the first nine months of the year. The Merrillville-based bank reported $20.6 million in earnings during the first three quarters, a $2.3 million or 12 percent year-to-date increase.
The 118-year-old community bank brought in $18.3 million in earnings during the first nine months of 2012.
Mortgage lending has been a major source of growth. The bank's mortgage-lending division has originated $400 million in new first mortgages in the past two years and expects to extend an additional $500 million in home loans over the next two years.
So far this year, the bank has loaned $147 million to help 964 customers buy or refinance their homes.
"Consumers are ready for a new start, and many of them are starting with a new place to live," said Mike Schrage, president and chief executive officer. "Our lenders and underwriting teams are working hard to get families into homes."
Both residential and commercial lending have been picking up, with $28 million in net growth in the third quarter. Centier's net loans reached $1.85 billion at the end of September after growing by about $103 million over the last nine months.
Centier is making an effort to bulk up its small-business lending. A new small-business lending division has worked with retail branch managers on a new retail call officer program. The idea is to reach out more to businesses in the community.
"We have created a unified team of about 15 bankers to meet the financial needs of small businesses around the state," Schrage said. "To date, we have about $75 million in small business loans outstanding, and we're just getting started."
The bank aims to expand its retail footprint next year. Plans call for adding two new branches in the Lafayette area and building banking centers in Mishawaka and Carmel.
"Our business plan has always included retail branches in St. Joseph, Hamilton and Tippecanoe counties," Schrage said.
"A key differentiator in banking with Centier is our personalized services, particularly in commercial banking, and businesses in these regions have responded well to us."