Muncie-based First Merchants has its next leaders in place following the Sept. 29 retirement announcement of current President and CEO Michael Rechin.
Rechin, who has served the post for 13 years, will retire Dec. 31. He will remain on the bank’s board of directors and will serve as an advisor, First Merchants said in a statement.
Mark Hardwick, now chief operations offer and chief financial officer, will succeed Rechin as CEO. The bank also named Michael Stewart, current chief banking officer, president, while Michele Kawiecki, current senior vice president of finance, will become chief financial officer.
All leadership changes are effective Jan. 1.
Charles Schalliol, chairman of First Merchant’s board of directors said Rechin oversaw much of the bank’s recent growth.
“On Mike’s watch, First Merchants grew from $3 billion in assets to $13 billion, with income growth to match,” Schalliol said. “Forbes has recognized and ranked First Merchants as one of the five best banks in the country in each of the last three years.”
Rechin said he has enjoyed his time with First Merchants. He and his wife, Debbie, consider Indiana home.
“We plan to stay for the foreseeable future, and I will continue to assist the new leadership team,” he said.
Schalliol said the transition in leadership is part of a “long-planned succession process” developed by the Rechin and the bank’s board.
“The board believes strongly that these management changes will position First Merchants well to continue to be a leading regional bank,” he said.
Hardwick joined First Merchants in November 1997 as corporate controller and was promoted to CFO in April 2002. In June 2007, he assumed all leadership duties related to operations, technology and risk management.
Hardwick’s role expanded in 2016 as he took on the title of COO, where he oversaw internal audits, facilities and corporate social responsibility.
Stewart joined First Merchants in 2008 and leads revenue generating activities. He previously served in executive roles with National City Bank in Indiana.
Kawiecki has been with First Merchants since 2015. She previously served as senior vice president of capital management and assistant treasurer at UMB Financial Corp. in Kansas City, Missouri.
Muncie-based First Merchants has assets of approximately $12.3 billion and operates 130 banking offices in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. It has 18 locations in Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois.
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