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Xavier Magazine | October 19, 2017

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Profile: Gretchen Schmidt

By France Griggs Sloat

Gretchen Schmidt
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1979
President and CEO, Franklin Savings and Loan, Cincinnati

Family Funds | Schmidt is carrying on the family business that began in the German immigrant neighborhoods of Over-the-Rhine and East Walnut Hills with simple transactions to help neighbors buy homes. A loosely organized association of business owners collected savings from residents and offered it to the highest bidder one night a week.

Father of Thrift | Schmidt’s grandfather, 1929 alumnus Henry Siemers, had a hand in selecting the new name, after the father of thrift Ben Franklin, shortly after World War II. Franklin’s origins date back to 1883 with the founding of the Green Street No. 2 Loan and Building Co., which consolidated with the Bremen Street Loan and Building to form Franklin.

Banking on the Future | Henry Siemers entered the building and loan business in 1923 when he was 17. By the time Schmidt was a young girl, he was the company president. She remembers him driving a convertible and smoking cigars. During his tenure, the company became a daytime operation in 1952.

In the Bank | Her father, Thomas Siemers, a 1953 and 1961 Xavier graduate, took over from his dad in 1968. Thomas led the company through its biggest growth period with mergers and buyouts of other building and loans. He remains chairman.

In the Money | Though Schmidt thought about becoming a teacher, she knew her future was pretty much sealed. After all, she’d worked in the family business every summer since she was a sophomore in high school.

Small Change | “We want to be a bank for the community. It’s better for the consumer because we’re smaller, and we pride ourselves on customer service and knowing their names.”

Smart Investment | Schmidt has been involved with Franklin for more than 30 years. She’s worked in every department—as a teller, and in accounting, lending, human resources and benefits—and was the chief operations officer.

Overdrawn | Franklin weathered Ohio’s S&L crisis in the mid-1980s when many S&Ls had to close. It’s always been insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and is one of about 25 remaining local savings and loans.

New Interest | This summer, Schmidt was promoted to president and CEO and is now responsible for a business with $300 million in assets, 65 employees and seven branch locations. “It’s just something I’m familiar and comfortable with and now there are new opportunities.”

Seeing Blue | Schmidt has seen to it that the family’s Xavier legacy continues: Her oldest son is an assistant baseball coach at Xavier, another son is a senior and her youngest son is a freshman baseball recruit. The family’s bread and butter may be green, but, she says, “We bleed blue.”

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