Batek retires from First National Bank

Drew Veskauf TimesNewspapers
Bill Batek stands outside by the First National Bank sign Aug. 14 before the bank merged with Better Banks later that week. An open house party in his honor was held that day.

Thirty-four years in the banking industry will put a person through some interesting times.

Bill Batek spent 24 years as the president and CEO of First National Bank in Chillicothe. Before his tenure at FNB, Batek was a national bank examiner and had the opportunity to travel throughout the country before making a life for himself and his family in Chillicothe.

“I had a young family, I knew the president (of FNB) was going to leave. So an opportunity for him became an opportunity for me. I was in the right place at the right time and had a wonderful opportunity at the time,” Batek said.

Batek started his career at FNB in 1990 and saw changes in the banking industry, from deregulation in the 1980s to the reinforcement of regulation after the 2009 financial crisis.

The departure of Batek this month also marked a new era for the bank at 900 N. Fourth St. FNB was bought out by Better Banks, another local banking business with headquarters in Dunlap.

“It’s a well-run financial institution,” Batek said.

“I think they were looking for a good match for them. They wanted to keep the same concept and premise in mind.”

With the regulations after 2009, Batek said the smaller local banks have to follow the same rules as the big guys.

“What’s happening, banks like Better Banks are looking for banks like ours to partner and join with,” Batek said.

“If you get good banks and bring them together it does make them stronger.”

Batek said he was glad to see FNB go into the hands of another local bank.

“I think the big banks ... they do focus on the larger things, and I think the small business guy, the further you get away from a community-minded bank, you just become a number,” Batek said.

“The cookie-cutter model of the computer models don’t know the integrity of the person. As a community banker, you look them in the eyeball and can see it in them.”

Batek also said he was happy to work with the people of Chillicothe and help them with financial needs.

Looking around town and seeing successful small businesses always put a smile on his face, Batek said.

“We did a lot of community-minded things,” Batek said.

Batek is the father of four children. The youngest, Maddy Batek, is in her senior year at Illinois Valley Central High School. He said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family.

“I’m a big family guy. Between my kids and my job; those are two critical things you try to find an even balance between the two,” Batek said.

Batek’s involvement in the financial sector is not over with, though. After his time with FNB, he said he is now working on managing an investment portfolio for others.

After attending a graduation ceremony at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, for a friend of his son Jake Batek, the speaker made a note that Batek took to heart. The speaker said to follow your passion, give $1.10 of work for every $1 paid and have fun.

“I’ve pursued my passion, gave my 110 percent and I had fun. Now that I’m 57, I really want to drill down on that,” Batek said.

He said his passions are his family and being an investment strategist, and when the opportunity for working on the investment portfolio came about, he said he wanted to go for it.

Batek said he believes Better Banks will be a good choice for the community of Chillicothe and will miss working for the bank.

“It’s a huge chapter in my life. It’s a great chapter in my life,” Batek said.