More change coming at Talmer

WARREN – Giant letters bearing the words “Talmer Bank and Trust” were unloaded in recent days from a truck pulled up at the front of what used to be the corporate offices of First Place Bank.

Changeover from “First Place Bank” to the new “Talmer Bank and Trust” signage on the approximately 40 retail and ATM locations was set to begin as early as this weekend.

The last-remaining Warren-based bank last week completed its consolidation with Troy, Mich.-based Talmer Bank and Trust after First Place was purchased in its entirety by Talmer Bancorp. a year ago. At the time, Talmer officials had predicted the name and community feel of the First Place properties would remain.

While the community feel may remain, it now will stem from a Michigan-based bank that began in 2007 as a family-owned facility named after two grandparents of the founders. The word “Talmer” comes from the combinations of the names of the grandfathers of two top bank officials, President and CEO David T. Provost (Talmage) and Chairman Gary Torgow (Merzon).

Talmer Bank and Trust’s parent company, Talmer Bancorp., had remained a privately-held family affair until just last week when it went public for the first time in the company’s seven-year history. Talmer stocks opened Wednesday on the Nasdaq, trading at $13 a share. By the close of business on Friday, they had reached $13.95.

Discussions to sell what for years was the First Place Bank corporate office building and bank retail office at 185 E. Market St. in downtown Warren, along with other adjacent land and at least one other building owned by Talmer, to Trumbull County are expected to come to fruition. So far there has been no official word on how many people work in the building or what will happen to the corporate people who work in the upstairs offices of the building.

Trumbull Commissioner Paul Heltzel said a final purchase agreement is expected within a week. He declined to release a purchase price until the sale is finalized.

Included in the plan will be a stipulation for the new owners to lease back to Talmer part of the building’s first floor, allowing the bank to continue to operate a retail center with the existing drive-up window. Heltzel said the contract also will include verbiage requiring the seller to raze an adjacent vacant East Market Street building that had suffered water damage.

Heltzel said he is under the impression that the bank plans to utilize one of its other nearby branches for office workers being transfered from the downtown Warren office with the sale.

Company officials have been banned for several weeks by Securities and Exchange Commission rules from publicly discussing any developments involving the bank’s consolidation, sale of the downtown office, rebranding or stock sale, due to the initial stock offering.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said Friday he has been in contact with officials at Talmer, but had no details on their plans for the future of employees in the downtown office.

According to Warren city income tax records, First Place Bank in 2013 submitted tax documentation representing 192 employees and $7.4 million payroll in the city. Documentation for the prior year represented 180 employees in the city and $7.85 million in payroll. Tax documents for 2014 have not yet been submitted.

First Place Bank was once the area’s largest local institution, but its deposits in Ohio and local market share have dropped each year since 2010, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.