WEST WARWICK — As he steps into his new role as chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Centreville Bank, Harold Horvat said Tuesday he’s eager to continue to grow the 190-year-old institution.
“We’ve been able to expand quite a bit,” said Horvat, who effectively moved into his new position last week, having previously served as the bank’s president and Chief Operating Officer. “We want to continue that.”
A resident of Cranston, Horvat is taking up the reins of Thomas Lamb Jr., who the Centreville Bank Board of Trustees announced last month would be retiring.
In a press release, Lamb, who will remain on the bank’s board of trustees, said it’s “been an honor to work with the exceptional people who make-up the Centreville Bank family.”
“I’ve been humbled by the trust that has been placed in me, appreciative of the support from the board and our employees, and proud of the progress that we’ve made together,” he continued, adding that he’s “particularly thankful to our loyal customers.”
Lamb said last month that the decision to appoint Horvat as his successor came down to a number of factors, including Horvat’s “leadership capabilities to take Centreville Bank into the future” and his “strategic business acumen.”
And that business acumen will come in handy for Horvat, as he takes on a position that he said Tuesday is far more strategic by nature than was the previous role he’d filled.
“Prior to this, being responsible for the lending side and being responsible for retail and the mortgage side was much more day-to-day,” said Horvat, who was elected last year as president and COO of the company after serving nearly four years as a chief lending officer.
Now, however, Horvat is in what he called a “bigger picture role,” tasked with taking a more holistic look at the institution to help develop long-term strategies for growth.
As for his expansion goals, Horvat said he hopes the bank continues to grow as a commercial loan lender.
“Historically, we’ve been a first mortgage lender, which is great, and it continues to be a great deal of our business,” he said. “But going into commercial allows us to diversify our risk, and the returns are a little bit higher on the commercial side, as well.”
In fact, Horvat added, Centreville has already expanded its commercial loan activity quite a bit in recent years, and today does a significant amount of commercial business throughout the state and into Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Hired in 2014 as a chief lending officer at Centreville, Horvat was charged in that role with building the institution’s commercial lending division. He’s since helped expand the commercial portfolio tenfold, from around $30 million to $300 million.
While he looks forward to expanding the bank’s reach, Horvat also spoke Tuesday about some plans in the works to benefit the local community through the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation.
“What we’ve embarked on is developing relationships with a number of community organizations,” said Horvat, who also chairs the board of the charitable foundation, which has been funded by the bank but is its own entity.
“We have a pretty ambitious plan this year to invest close to $1 million through that foundation,” Horvat continued.
In 2018, by comparison, the foundation donated $723,264.
With a Master of Business Administration from Bryant University, Horvat has worked for more than three decades in the banking field. Having begun his career at Old Stone Bank in Providence, he was eventually appointed executive vice president and COO at Mansfield Bank, where he remained until coming to Centreville.
Horvat said he’d imagined from his career’s infancy that he would one day lead a bank—albeit a different bank.
“Honestly, I’m where I would have imagined myself being, but probably at the bank where I started,” he said Tuesday, just a week after stepping into his new role. “Old Stone is not around anymore, but that’s where I’d anticipated being today, all these years later.”
But while Old Stone Bank closed its doors in the early 1990s, nearly two centuries after Centreville Bank’s founding, it appears the sky may be the limit for the West Warwick-based institution.
“We’ve been able to tell the story beyond Pawtuxet Valley that we’re a very strong financial institution,” Horvat said. “We’re very well capitalized, which is critical. We’re not publicly traded, we’re locally owned, and it gives us a huge opportunity to further invest in our communities and grow here in Rhode Island.”
And to be at the helm of all that, Horvat said, “feels great.”
“It’s a great institution that’s been around for a long, long time,” he said. “It’s got a great foundation, great employees. I feel great.”