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Wagner stepping away from mortgage business

Paul Wagner
Paul Wagner

After 17 years with Grundy Bank and 40 years in banking, Paul Wagner, vice president of mortgage lending, is retiring.

Between it being a tough time for people to obtain loans and having grandchildren he would rather be spending time with, he felt “it’s just time.”

“It has never been any rougher than it is right now. Certainly, everywhere, people are suffering in the economy,” Wagner said.

“When you add all that together and add that we have five grandkids in Bloomington, and as you get older you realize that you are not spending as much time with them as you should.”

Wagner’s current assistant, Dave Brozovich, will take over as the new leader of the mortgage department when Wagner officially retires Sept. 6.

The team has worked together for 13 years.

“It should be a smooth transition with the staff we have,” Brozovich said. “He did really well here. The department has grown quite a bit in the last few years.”

Grundy Bank President and CEO Kevin Olson said Wagner and his wife, Joyce, will be missed.

“Under his leadership, our mortgage department has grown from $40 million to over $205 million – a five-fold increase. He’s done a wonderful job in hiring his staff, implementing technology and increasing our product offerings,” Olson said.

A retirement reception will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday in the Grundy Bank lobby at 201 Liberty St., Morris. The public is welcome.

Wagner began his career in 1973, working for First National Bank of Barrington.

He was teaching at the time when a friend called him and thought he would be interested in banking.

After a year at First National, he took a position with Illinois State Bank in Quincy.

He began as an installment lender. In addition to this job, he became a branch manager.

By 1985, he was promoted to lead the mortgage department.

He stayed in Quincy another 10 years, before moving to Grundy Bank’s mortgage department.

He decided it was time to move to another bank when Illinois State Bank was purchased by a bigger company.

“We started out with three of us at the beginning, now we have seven full-time and one person we contract on a part-time basis,” he said.

When he made Morris his home, he became a part of the community, serving numerous organizations.

Some of those being: Grundy Realtors Association, Will-Grundy Homebuilders Association, Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity, and the American Red Cross of Grundy County when it had a chapter here.

As he looks back on his career, the amount of changes in technology he has witnessed is surprising.

When he first began in banking, he worked in the credit department running credit checks.

“At that time, you called people for backgrounds and things that were part of a credit report really shouldn’t have been,” he said.

For example, arrest records.

Now, credit reports take up a large part of people’s existence, he said. A credit score of 680 used to be the average years ago, but now it causes customers to have additional charges.

In later years at Grundy Bank, just putting loan applications online made an enormous impact.

“How could you handle volume if you require customers to come in and sit down,” he said. “We are able to serve a lot more customers and make it easier on customers ... kids now probably don’t know what the inside of a bank looks like.”

Grundy Bank was the first in the community to make applications available on the Internet, he said.

Under Wagner, the department also partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer loans targeted to low- and moderate-income homeowners, Olson said.

Because of this, the USDA has recognized Grundy Bank in each of the last 5 1/2 years for helping more than 250 families invest $30 million in their personal homes through the USDA Rural Development Program.

Wagner and his wife plan to stay in Morris for at least awhile. He said he plans to fill up his free time with quality time with his family.

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