U.S. Bank targets Michigan for commercial lending

Posted on December 13, 2012

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank National Association — known generally as U.S. Bank — the fifth largest commercial bank in the U.S., has hired two experienced bankers to beef up its presence in Michigan with the goal of greatly increasing its commercial lending in the state.

Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, vice president of corporate public relations at parent company U.S. Bancorp, said one of the bankers, Tom Hammer, was hired last year and is now in charge of the West Michigan region. Hammer, who has more than 30 years of experience in the banking industry, worked in Grand Rapids for 20 of those years. He was with LaSalle Bank and, prior to that, at Comerica and National City.

Jim Hilmer joined U.S. Bank in September and is responsible for the east side of the state.

Hammer said U.S. Bank has been involved in past years in syndicated loans to businesses in Michigan that were initiated by other banks.

“We wanted to take the next step of not only continuing that, but calling on the companies directly ourselves,” said Hammer. U.S. Bank’s commercial lending group calls on mid-sized companies with sales of $50 million up to $1 billion.

Hammer said Michigan is enjoying “a nice turnaround” since 2009, when the auto industry was on the ropes.

Hilmer’s banking career has spanned more than 22 years in Michigan. He spent the majority of his career as a director at the investment banking firm of W.Y. Campbell & Co. in Detroit and, most recently, served as managing director and senior managing director in the investment banking group of Comerica Securities in Detroit.

“I have come back on to the light side, which is traditional banking — as opposed to the dark side, which is that investment banking,” joked Hilmer.

Though U.S. Bank has a few offices in the state for some mortgage and corporate trust business, it had not targeted Michigan from a commercial banking standpoint until it brought in Hammer, according to Bill Bertha, market president for U.S. Bank in Wisconsin, who will oversee the bank’s commercial banking push into Michigan.

“We do business in the surrounding states — Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin — so we thought it made sense to bring our strong credit ratings and strong balance sheet to the state of Michigan,” said Bertha.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) has $352 billion in assets, as of Sept. 30. U.S. Bank has 3,086 banking offices in 25 states and 5,080 ATMs and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions.

U.S. Bancorp received the 2011 Spirit of America Award, the highest honor bestowed on a company by United Way.

Pete Daly, Grand Rapids Business Journal.