Courtesy of Tom Heiks
63 | head, U.S. commercial middle market banking, Fifth Third Bank
With a father and a brother as engineers, Heiks quickly realized that such work wasn’t his gift. But a family friend who was president of a small bank in his hometown seemed to have an interesting life, leading to a summer job as a teller for Heiks. That kicked off a 42-year industry career for the Ohio native, who now leads the middle-marketing banking team for Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank, the nation’s 10th-largest bank.
About 30 of those years have been with Fifth Third or its predecessor, Old Kent Financial, which was acquired in 2001. Eleven years ago, Heiks moved from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Charlotte, not long after Fifth Third acquired First Charter, a Queen City-based community bank.
“Inside 30 days of being here, my wife and I decided we were never interested in leaving,” he says. “It’s just an incredibly vibrant city and state.”
It was the Ohio bank’s only N.C. bank acquisition, but organic growth has pushed its footprint to 52 offices, including five that opened last year. Over the next three years, the bank plans to add more than 40 offices in the Carolinas, mostly in the Charlotte and Triangle metro areas, according to CEO Greg Carmichael.
With JPMorgan Chase, US Bank, First Horizon Bank and others also expanding in North Carolina, it’s an increasingly competitive environment. But Heiks says Fifth Third benefits from a decentralized model with 15 regional headquarters that have considerable autonomy, enabling more personal service. With $170 billion in assets, the bank also has groups focused on small, midsized and large corporate customers. Before taking his current post, the Toledo University graduate was in charge of the bank’s operations from Virginia to Florida. In his current post, he is responsible for overseeing lending and other services for companies with revenue of $20 million to $500 million across 15 states.
Outside banking, Heiks was board chairman of the N.C. Chamber last year, which he calls one of the most fulfilling experiences of his career. A key job was helping lead a search for a new CEO to succeed Lew Ebert, who had led the pro-business nonprofit for a decade. After looking nationally, the board hired one of Ebert’s top lieutenants, Gary Salamido, for the post. He remains a board member.
“I’ve really enjoyed my years in banking because I’ve been able to help people build their careers, and I get to meet a lot of energetic entrepreneurs and creative people,” Heiks says. “It’s also been fun to be part of our growth story here in the Southeast and nationally.”
— David Mildenberg