Banking

Ron Seiffert, chairman and CEO of Northwest Bancshares, dies at 65

Ronald Seiffert, the chairman, president and CEO of Northwest Bancshares, died of natural causes Tuesday, the Columbus, Ohio-based company said. He was 65.

Seiffert had led the $14.3 billion-asset bank since June 2018. Prior to joining Northwest, he served as chairman, president and CEO of the $553 million-asset Delaware County Bank & Trust from October 2011 to April 2017, when the Lewis Center, Ohio-based company was acquired by the $9.3 billion-asset First Commonwealth Financial Corp. 

Northwest’s board appointed Chief Financial Officer William Harvey to serve as interim president and CEO. Timothy Fannin, who had been lead director, was appointed interim chairman. 

Ronald Seiffert’s long career in banking began at Huntington Bancshares in 1979. He also did stints at Bank One, JPMorgan Chase and DCB Financial before joining Northwest Bancshares in 2018.

Harvey called Seiffert “an extraordinary banker, citizen and friend,” in a press release Wednesday.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside Ron,” Harvey added. “He had a belief in the bank’s future as a successful, independent financial institution. Ron had a vision and set the strategic direction of the companies and we intend to carry this vision forward.”

Seiffert, who succeeded longtime Chairman and CEO William Wagner, took firm control of Northwest’s direction, according to Shawn Walker, Northwest’s executive vice president, communications and regional marketing.

“Ron was a very seasoned banker and he hit the ground running,” Walker said. “He was more than willing to put his stamp on things.”

Seiffert engineered Northwest’s entry into Indiana, striking a $346 million deal to acquire the $2.1 billion-asset MutualFirst Financial in October 2019. He also presided over the sale of Northwest’s insurance agency to USI Insurance Services in Valhalla, New York, in April 2021. 

Northwest, which operates more than 140 branches in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Indiana, grew its assets by 50% under Seiffert’s leadership. Last year, the company reported record net income of $161.9 million, powered in part by approximately $500 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans originated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“He was a great guy to work for,” Walker said. “Very well-respected by the board and the executive management team.”

In addition to his duties at Northwest, Seiffert was active in banking industry trade groups, including the Ohio Bankers League and the Pennsylvania Bankers Association. Seiffert, who served on the Pennsylvania group’s board of directors, its government relations and policy committee and its budget and audit committee, was quick to volunteer his time, said President and CEO Duncan Campbell.

“He became a major leader in a short period of time,” Campbell said in an interview Wednesday.

Campbell described Seiffert as soft-spoken, but deeply respected in Keystone State banking circles. “He had a gravitas about him,” Campbell said. “I think people really appreciated who he was, how he conducted his business. … He added perspective and value around our board table, and I know to our banking industry here in Pennsylvania.” 

Seifert began his career at Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares in 1979. He served as Huntington’s vice chairman from 1997 to 2002. After working three years for Bank One and JPMorgan Chase, Seiffert became chief financial officer at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, serving as interim president from March 2009 to September 2010 while the university conducted a search for a permanent president. 

In 2011, Seiffert re-entered the banking industry as CEO of DCB Financial, the holding company for Delaware County Bank & Trust. At the time, that company was reeling from the unexpected resignation of Seiffert’s predecessor. DCB reported a $13 million loss in 2010.

Seiffert arranged a capital raise and got the company out from under a pair of enforcement actions by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. After returning DCB to profitability, Seiffert negotiated its $106 million sale to First Commonwealth in October 2016.

Like Walker, Campbell said Seiffert was always a pleasant person to work with. “He had an infectious smile,” Campbell recalled. “He laughed. Days are long, issues are serious, but I always felt Ron would ask how my kids were doing. I think he understood there was more to life than just his job. I always felt he was the kind of person you wanted to be around to make yourself better, as a person as much as a banker.”

“Ron was a friend to everyone at Northwest and the communities that we call home. We mourn for his family and wish them peace during this most difficult time,” Fannin said in the press release.

Seiffert is survived by his wife, Sherry, three daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren.

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