Johnson Bank moves into county
Hundreds of community members attend reception

By Dave Fidlin - News Graphic Correspondent

Dec. 16, 2014

Brian Holtz is the branch manager of Johnson Bank in Mequon.  
Photo by Mark Justesen

A 45-year-old company with banking offices sprinkled throughout Wisconsin has officially made its foray into Ozaukee County.

Last month, Johnson Bank expanded its footprint as it opened its newest branch in Mequon, bringing the Racine-bank financial institution’s latest count of offices up to 40. The bulk – 35 branches – are in Wisconsin, while the balance are in Arizona.

Despite changing consumer tastes – including a growing proliferation of people who do their banking online or through mobile devices – Johnson Bank leaders assert the decision to open a new bank office at a time when many competing financial institutions are closing branches had to do, in part, with customer requests.

Bank leaders held an official grand opening Dec. 9, at the Mequon Road branch. Several hundred people attended the gala, including a few local officials and members of Mequon’s business community.

Gus Hernandez, president of Johnson Bank’s Milwaukee area offices, said the decision to locate in Mequon was logical. He pointed to the city’s recent ranking as one of the top suburbs to live in the United States by the publication Business Insider.

“Mequon is a special place, and we’ve got some special leadership here,” Hernandez said.

Thomas Bolger, CEO of Johnson Bank’s corporate parent, Johnson Financial Group, echoed Hernandez’s sentiments during last week’s celebratory event. He pointed to the growth of Mequon and its surrounding communities as one of the top reasons behind locating in the community.

Brian Holtz has been appointed to serve as the manager of the Mequon branch. While Holtz is new to Johnson Bank, he is not a stranger to Ozaukee County. He brings to the position a decade of experience in the financial industry within the area, most recently at BMO Harris Bank.

Holtz holds memberships to several local organizations, including a role on the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, he serves as president of the Fisher Woods Neighborhood Association.

As he addressed the hundreds of attendees at the grand opening event, Holtz, a Wauwatosa native, said he was “thrilled to death” about helping cement Johnson Bank’s presence in Ozaukee County.

The Johnson Bank Mequon branch office, located at 1555 W. Mequon Road, has a long history as a financial institution. It was previously an M&I Bank branch office.

When M&I was acquired by BMO Harris Bank and eventually adopted its nameplate, a decision was made to close M&I’s Mequon branch office since BMO Harris already had a nearby branch office at 1425 W. Mequon Road.

Johnson Bank revamped the site prior to taking up residence.

“Congratulations on your move,” said Alderman John Hawkins, who was among the Mequon elected leaders in attendance at the grand opening. “This is a beautiful building.”

Amid all the celebration of Johnson Bank’s latest chapter, Bolger also paused to reflect on the financial institution’s history.

“While we are new to Mequon and Ozaukee County, we have a long and rich history in Wisconsin,” Bolger said. “We needed to be in Ozaukee County and Mequon. We want to invest in this community, and we’re happy to be here.”

Johnson Bank has close lineage to another Wisconsin institution, SC Johnson: A Family Company, the fifth-generation household cleaning manufacturer that also is based in Racine and proudly trumpets its family ownership structure.

In 1970, Samuel C. Johnson, who at the time was a fourth-generation family member at the helm of SC Johnson, founded Johnson Bank with the principles of personal service and relentless community involvement.

Samuel C. Johnson died in 2004. His daughter, Helen, represents a fifth-generation family member at the helm of Johnson Financial Group. She serves as chairwoman of the corporate parent.

In addition to Johnson Bank, a separate company, Johnson Insurance, also falls within the corporate umbrella. Combined, the two operations employ more than 1,000 people.

From his vantage point, Bolger said he envisions future growth for Johnson Bank, even as competing institutions are retrenching on their footprint.

“We think we are uniquely positioned as a privately held Wisconsin company,” Bolger said. “We’re very thankful for the reception that we’ve received (in Mequon).”

Johnson Bank
1555 W. Mequon Road, Mequon