Centier President, CEO and Chairman of the Board Michael E. Schrage views his role at the bank as an organizational head coach.
“I am very competitive, as I was all through my school years, in athletics and the desire for coaching,” Schrage says. “What motivates me is the thrill of competing in the financial arena. I see my role as president/CEO as the head coach of the Centier organization."
Schrage grew up in Whiting and Robertsdale, graduated from Culver Military Academy, which had 810 students, and from Denison University in Ohio, which had 2400 students.
In 1972, Schrage, the fourth-generation of his family at the bank, joined First Bank of Whiting which was founded by his great grandfather Henry Schrage in 1895. The bank’s name was changed to Centier in 1991.
Schrage, who took over the bank from his father Walter E. Schrage Jr. in 1977, has successfully sustained a business legacy that includes a “Not for Sale” promise to remain independently owned and operated for generations to come. Centier has grown from 40 employees in 1971 to 750 today.
“Part of the goal was to take something small and develop it into something that is more dynamic,” Schrage said.
Today, Schrage is proud of his staff and the way they treat customers.
“It is a smiling, happy energetic atmosphere that everybody feels good about working together,” Schrage said.
Under Schrage’s leadership, the past nine years in a row Centier has been voted one of the best places to work in Indiana in a competition put on by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The past two years, Centier has been named one of the best banks in the country to work for by American Banker, a national banking publication, Schrage says.
Terry McMahon, President and CEO of McMahon & Associates CPA’s, has known Schrage personally and professionally for 35 years.
“He is very dedicated to his family, his employees and the communities in which the bank has a presence,” McMahon says. “He works hard with every individual who works with the bank to impress on them the importance of good service. That distinguishes him in my opinion.”
Schrage said he has had many mentors in his life including his mother Doris Schrage, coach Colin Stetson, and Centier executive Herman Stauffer.
Stauffer helped Schrage during his first five years at the bank while he was going through the acclimation process and learning community banking. Schrage says Stauffer influenced both his thinking and actions.
Schrage has been involved with many local organizations during his 42-year career.
He has served on the American Red Cross, the Northwest Indiana Symphony, the Calumet Council of Boy Scouts and St. Jude House boards.
Schrage chaired the Juvenile Diabetes Walk for several years and has been deeply involved for the past six years with the American Heart Association. He has served on the board of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce the past five years and is a board director of Culver Academy.
“I am honored by the nomination appointment to the Hall of Fame which is most appropriate as it coincides with the bank’s 120th anniversary,” Schrage says.
“It is certainly a milestone and celebration for us and I consider it an honor to join the other Business Hall of Fame members,” Schrage said.