Top Workplaces special award for Leadership: Richwood Bank

Steve Wartenberg
For Columbus CEO
Richwood Bank won a special award for leadership in the 2021 Top Workplaces awards from Columbus CEO. (Employees here shown pre-pandemic.)

Chad Hoffman has a simple leadership philosophy. “Nothing says banking has to be boring and painful,” says the CEO of Richwood Banking Co. “I want us to be the Disney of banking; the happiest place on Earth.”

While there are no amusement rides or space mountains at Richwood’s eight Ohio-based branches, there are coffee shops in four, which raise money for local charities, a series of professional-development classes modeled on the Disney Institute, daily group “huddles” and quarterly celebrations.

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“I’m a big believer that customers of a business can’t love it unless the employees love it first,” Hoffman says.

Hoffman’s leadership style and happy-banking goals seem to be working. Under his leadership, Richwood will open its ninth branch in Bellefontaine in May. His team also sings praise—in the Top Workplaces Energage survey, employees commented: “I feel needed,” “I love who I work with,” and “I feel appreciated.”

Hoffman was named CEO of Richwood in 2007, the fourth member of hi family to lead the community bank. He grew up on the family farm, and graduated from North Union High, where he’s now the announcer and scorekeeper for basketball and volleyball games.

“He’s all about people first,” says Heather Wirtz, Richwood’s chief experience officer. “He wants people to experience banking in a way that makes it memorable and not just transactional.”

In an era when fewer customers step foot in brick-and-mortar banks due to the rise in online banking and COVID-19, Richwood seems to be an exception. When traffic was down, Richwood remodeled its lobbies and added four coffee shops.

“We wanted customers to feel comfortable to hang out and, when they’re ready, to talk to us,” Wirtz says.

Because banks aren’t allowed to “do commerce,” Wirtz says, a donation model is used at the coffee shops. It’s raised about $300,000 for local non-profits. One of the most popular features at the cafes are “cookie Fridays,” featuring baked-in-the-bank Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.

The pandemic has also shifted the staff dynamic to less face-to-face interaction, Hoffman says. Richwood normally holds quarterly celebrations with games and performances for the team, but now the events are virtual. Despite the change, the top priority is to continue bringing everyone together.

Hoffman adds that he’s not a micro-managing CEO and enjoys giving talented people free reign to come up with new ideas, such as Wirtz, who led the development of an in-house advertising agency that helps local companies with their branding, advertising and connection with the community.

Richwood’s commitment to employees, customers and the community is paying off. At the end of 2017, the bank had just over $500 million in assets. The goal was to reach $1 billion in 2023; however, the team already met that goal in February, Hoffman says.

As Richwood continues to grow, so will Hoffman, who studies leadership and is a big believer in life-long learning to better all facets of his life, including the ability to lead his team.

Steve Wartenberg is a freelance writer.

Richwood Banking Co.

24 E. Blagrove St., Richwood 43344

Website: richwoodbank.com

Business: Community bank with eight branches and a ninth set to open in May.

CEO: Chad Hoffman

Employees: 183

Revenue: $40 million

Assets: $1 billion