It is rare to meet someone who is the sixth generation working in a family business. Yet, that’s the case for Tom Will Oyer whose family founded Vinton County National Bank in 1867. He is aware of how tightly intertwined the Will family history is with the bank’s story and the role the bank has played in local history all these years.
“The bank has always been a part of my life in some way. As a kid I remember my grandfather taking us to lunch in McArthur there in the basement of the bank and I remember knowing that he was important in the community. When I got older, I was teller a couple of summers but it was never assumed that I would join the family business. No one ever made me feel pressured to come here but the option was available,” he said.
In fact, Tom began to pursue an entirely different career path in the forestry industry. He was studying Forestry at West Virginia University and working a summer internship at a local company when he realized that it may not be the future he wanted for himself. So he switched gears and headed off to Ohio State University to study Economics.
With a degree in hand he began his career doing management and outside sales for Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes in Dayton. Here he went to night school for his MBA at University of Dayton, met the woman he would marry, and decided to come home to contribute to the family business.
“When I decided to come here, I knew that it couldn’t be just a job. It would be my career and not a stepping stone to somewhere else. I owe a lot to the bank and it’s been wonderful being here and finding my way,” he explained.
Tom’s first step at the bank was in 2013 as part of the Management Trainee program. His grandfather Bob Will created this program more than sixty years ago to attract talented college graduates to the bank. The program gives participants opportunity to experience several departments and has produced many bank leaders over the decades
It was through this training that Tom found his love for lending and for helping customers achieve their dreams. “When you are lending money, you’re helping a customer reach their goals. Whether it is a first car, a new home, or starting a business, it is a great feeling when you’re able to help a neighbor,” he said.
He spent a short time as Branch Operations Manager for the bank before taking over as Head of Consumer Lending. This position gave him the opportunity to manage and develop lenders. His mother, Emily Will Oyer, is a retired Head of Retail who told him that he would truly enjoy his work when he started to see employees grow because of the efforts he has made in helping them improve and develop. “I have also enjoyed my role as a manager, helping to guide employees and have a positive impact so they can blossom into the employee you know they can be. This is one of the true highlights of my job.”
It was under Tom’s leadership that the bank created the Personal Banker position which empowers bankers and broadens their ability to help customers with most of their deposit account and lending needs. He helped to develop new processes and training for this position which reached about forty employees in the first year. “We had to identify what was working and not working and even go back to the drawing board a couple of times to make sure we got it all right. In doing so, we went from about twenty lenders to sixty and we saw significant growth because of it,” he said.
Last year, VCNB President Mark Erslan approached Tom about a new opportunity on the horizon. Head of Commercial Lending Darrell Boggs had announced his intent to retire and Mark asked Tom if he would be interested in taking the reins. “Obviously, I don’t have a commercial lending background but I do have the lending background and the management background. I understand the processes and that it’s my job to facilitate the process to help lenders do what they do best,” he said.
He worked closely with Darrell to achieve a smooth transition and to prepare for the challenge ahead.
Mark commended Tom for the contributions he has made to the bank during his career here. “Tom has served the bank in multiple positions including the Head of Consumer Lending and Strategic Planning Committee Co-Chair. He’s helped foster changes that have resulted in bank growth and improved customer and employee experiences. We look forward to his continued contribution to the bank’s success, in this new role.”
While Tom takes pride in his family business, he is modest about his own accomplishments “There’s definitely pride in the Will family history with the bank and how we’ve served the community for so many years. It’s a wonderful thing, a rare thing but I think we all have a kind of built in modesty. We’re not flashy people, we don’t call attention to ourselves, we live pretty modestly and are grateful to have good careers in southern Ohio, serving our neighbors and employees,” he said.
He expressed gratitude for many people who helped to shape his views on community banking and who have helped him along the way. “Mark Erslan has been critical to my success. He’s been my mentor from day one and I’m grateful to him. My vision of the bank and perception of where it’s been and where it’s going have been influenced by my grandfather, my mother and my Uncle Tom Will who is Chairman of the Board.”
Tom grew up in Ross County. He and his wife Andrea live in the Laurelville area with their children ages 6, 5, 2 and newborn.