Our History

At CBAO, we are always looking to the future as we realize that we cannot change the past…we can only learn from it. In the 43 years of our existence, much has changed, but we still remain focused on our original mission of increasing the value of independent financial institutions.

As those who preceded us have told...

"In late December, 1973, four community bankers met to discuss the possibility of establishing an association for the independent community banks of Ohio. At that time, there was a tremendous amount of merger activity in Ohio.

These four bankers realized that one of the most important benefits of an association would be group purchasing to obtain products and services at a competitive price. Group purchasing strength would allow member banks to remain competitive, slow the merger rate, and preserve a strong community bank presence in Ohio. The association's original purpose was to find ways to help community banks be more competitive through collective bargaining and developing mutual programs and purchase contracts.

The definition of a community bank was a local business with a community-based board of directors, offering services based on local market factors, and investing in the local economy with both money and community service.

The four bankers decided that if they could persuade nine to twelve other bankers to attend a meeting in Columbus in February, 1974, they would proceed with a plan to establish the Independent Bankers Association of Ohio (the name was later changed to Community Bankers Association of Ohio (CBAO)). Twelve bankers from across Ohio attended that meeting where officers were elected and a law firm was selected to draw up the charter and code of regulations. In April, 1974, CBAO conducted its first annual convention, adopted its new charter and code of regulations, and elected its first board of directors.

The officers and directors did not want members to pay high annual dues. This meant that in order to be a viable association, CBAO would have to rely very heavily on non-dues revenues to subsidize operations. In 1978, CBAO's board of directors established the CBAO Service Corporation (CBAO-SC) and the CBAO Insurance Agency, Inc. (CBAO-IA). Royalties received by the CBAO-SC and commissions received by the CBAO-IA formed the financial base of the association. Convention and special events, education and training, increased communications, and a magazine also generate income and keep CBAO in touch with members.

Shortly after the association was formed, Jeffery Robb volunteered his company's Granville offices and conference rooms for CBAO's use. CBAO hired Jeffery Robb’s wife to handle the office duties, and contracted David Morrison, an attorney based in the Robb building, as a part-time executive director.

By January, 1980, it became apparent that if CBAO was going to accomplish anything worthwhile for its members, or even continue to exist, a full-time executive must be hired to run the organization. C. Scott Williams, one of the original founders and president of Farmers and Merchants Bank, Montpelier, became the first executive director of CBAO in March, 1980. The annual operating budget at that time was approximately $85,000, and community bank membership had grown to 88 banks."

Today, CBAO and its subsidiaries continue the mission of keeping our members competitive and preserving a strong community bank presence in Ohio. We continue to offer the highest quality products and services, ranging from insurance to credit cards, with negotiated discounts and fee income opportunities, which increase our members banks' bottom line. We offer unique and useful networking opportunities through our regional meetings, a hospitality house at the Memorial Tournament, an annual convention and trade show, high quality education and training seminars and webcasts, strong and focused legislative and regulatory representation in Ohio and Washington, D.C., and frequent communications. Our staff of seven employees and an annual operating budget of approximately $1,500,000 provide us with the expertise, commitment, and financial capability to ensure many more years of prosperity and growth, for both the association and its members.