On a Sunday afternoon last November, Dan Klimas was helping to serve a buffet-style holiday turkey meal to almost 550 Lorain County residents at a local business in Lorain.
The chief executive of Lorain National Bank sponsored the event along with four of his business associates from the county: Chris Carroll, president of Flavorseal; Billy Hricovec, owner of Tom’s Country Place; Dan Urban, chief human resources officer at Wickens, Herzer, Panza, Cook & Batista Co.; and Bud Hagy, owner of Café 83.
Several years ago, the five friends sat down to discuss how they could give back to Lorain County on a larger scale. This event is what they came up with.
In the second year for the event, meals were served out of four locations around the county to make it more accessible to a larger group of people. The first year, in 2010, 300 people were able to eat lunch at Tom’s Country Place.
“All of us individually had our own companies, and we have a great amount of loyalty to the area,” Klimas says. “Our businesses have benefitted from being located in Lorain County. It is a tough time for a lot of people in our markets, and we wanted to help out.”
Klimas is a big supporter of the same kind of community involvement from his employees within Lorain National Bank, a community bank that has been headquartered in Lorain County for more than 100 years.
Employees are encouraged to get involved in their own passion projects around the county at locations such as Catholic Charities and Second Harvest Food Bank, Klimas says.
“Our associates are so close to the community,” he says. “If you look at nearly any charitable activity in Lorain County, someone from Lorain National Bank is there getting involved.” On top of that, a team of employees within the company works together to plan how Lorain National Bank spends its resources and invests its time.
Klimas, who is a member of that team, is an Avon Lake native who has always maintained roots in Northeast Ohio. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree and MBA summa cum laude from Kent State, Klimas went into a consulting position at McKinsey & Company Inc. in the Cleveland office, where he was staffed on a number of banking studies.
He was involved in Society Bank’s acquisition of Central National Bank, and later went on to work for Society, now KeyCorp., for 12 years. For four years before joining LNB, Klimas was the president of the northern Ohio region of Huntington Bank, leading all banking operations in Cleveland, Toledo and the rest of northern Ohio.
This big banking experience allowed Klimas to bring a variety of services and skill sets to Lorain National Bank, including mortgage, deposit and brokerage services. Since he started at the bank, Klimas has grown the geography of the bank by adding branches.
However, Klimas stands firmly by the community bank’s model.
“LNB has an incredible heritage in our community. It’s been around since 1905, and has really helped our community to succeed,” he says. “I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to help retain the value of the community bank.”
One of the advantages of a community bank, he says, is decisions can be made more quickly than at a large organization. With less hierarchy and a more entrepreneurial environment, Lorain National Bank is able to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of its customers.
In the wake of the economic downturn, Lorain National Bank struggled along with the entire banking industry, but, as a community bank, it has continued to offer the specialized care that its customers have come to expect, Klimas says.
“The challenging economic environment has made times hard for our customers as well, Klimas says. “One of the things our customers appreciate is being able to sit down with individual employees and work with them to get through the difficult times.”
Economic development in Northeast Ohio is an area of social services that Klimas has become involved in outside of work as well, through boards in Lorain and Cuyahoga counties. He is on the board of Team NEO, which attracts business to Northeast Ohio, as well as the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“I think that I can help with economic development in our community,” Klimas says. “I have a vested interest in growing the region and adding jobs.”
It helps that Northeast Ohio has great people, Klimas says. That’s the reason he chose the area to raise his family. He and his wife, Carol, the president of Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgeville, live in Westlake. They have four children: Chris, 25, Nicole, 23, Matt, 18, and Kaili, 8.
“I am really most proud of the fact that I was able to build my career and keep a very good work-life balance,” he says. “I was able to work for companies that gave me that opportunity, and it has made for a much more rewarding work experience and home experience.”
At Lorain National Bank, Klimas has helped to foster the community that he values for himself and his hometown.
“LNB continues to strive to be a very successful community bank,” he says. “Community banks are of great value and are important to the success of the area. They should help the individuals in the communities they serve.”