Naperville’s Tom Miers never banked on a career in banking

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Though giving back to the community has long been in his blood, in his younger years Tom Miers hardly banked on a career in banking.

Finding His Leadership Roots

“I came here in 1969 to be trained as a Y director, ended up with a degree in behavioral sciences and ended up working for the Naperville Y while I was in college,” said Miers.  “I really felt like I was given a lot of support from the Y. They saw some promise in me, and that’s why, you know, I decided I wanted to do that as a career.”

During his time at the YMCA, Miers also volunteered for the Naperville Jaycees, which then was a small, men-only group.

“Tom was always about the community. And I think that genuineness really comes through,” said longtime friend, Brien Nagle.  “It’s hard to outwork him.  He has great ideas.  He engages people.  He respects people immensely.”

He truly demonstrated his leadership as the Jaycees’ president when the city approached the group about creating the paddleboat quarry as part of the Riverwalk.

“It was $40,000 over five years or something like that. And, you know, we all felt that it was important, but we didn’t have any money,” said Tom Miers

So Miers led the charge in convincing the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce to give up control of the Last Fling and for the Jaycees to take over to use as a fundraiser for the quarry.

“We turned Jefferson Street into a beer garden with brats and entertainment,” said Miers.  “The first year we made $16,000 that we paid our commitment for the Riverwalk and from there, history. You know, the Last Fling is still going on.”

“He’s insightful and he just has common sense solutions to issues that arise. And, because of his likability, people get behind,” said Nagle.

Tom Miers and MidAmerica Bank

Miers’ leadership did not go unnoticed. In fact, through the Jaycees, Miers met Ken Koranda, who was working at MidAmerica Bank and would go on to be its president, when one day he approached Miers with a surprising job offer.

“We needed some more management,” said Koranda.  “So I talked to him about being our office manager in Naperville. And he was a hard, hard sell.”

“I said, ‘Ken, I don’t know anything about banking.’ He said, ‘You don’t need to. I’ll teach you that,'” said Miers.  “‘The banking part’s the easy part. Finding people that have got a love for the community is really what we’re looking for.'”

“He was an instant, good fit. Customer service was very, very important to us. Obviously, you don’t need to be around Tom very long to realize that he’s a people person. He listens well, takes care of things,” said Koranda.

It was that point that launched Miers’ banking career in 1979.  For nearly 30 years, he grew with MidAmerica, expanding from only one office in Naperville to several, and to more than 80 offices region-wide.

I think one of the best business decisions I ever made was getting Tom to come to work at MidAmerica because, you know, he ended up as the executive vice president of our company and doing all sorts of things. He would take any job. No job was too big. You know, we worked on Friday nights and Saturdays. And so, you know, he’s always been a good leader, led by example,” said Koranda.

Starting a new chapter Naperville Bank & Trust

After a successful career with Mid America Bank, Miers started a new chapter in 2010, becoming president of Naperville Bank & Trust, now a branch of Wintrust Bank, for 14 years.

“Everyone who knows Tom respects him as a banker. If he’s associated with anything, in this case, Wintrust. I said, you’ll have an instant customer base, mainly because he knows people, because they know and trust, Tom Miers,” said Koranda.

He once again led the charge, when the bank was adding a third branch in town, taking the place of the historic post office in downtown Naperville.

“This building was kind of an iconic building and it’s been a very important part of local history,” said Miers.

Tom Miers says he’s, “Not retiring but “rewiring”

Now after 40-plus years in banking, Miers has recently retired.

“I love working and I love having purpose and getting up in the morning and going into the bank and working with people,” said Miers.  “I’ve been very grateful that I’ve worked for two bank organizations that put such a great emphasis on community, community involvement, and giving back to the community, which fits very well for what I strongly believe in, but it was time to give other people an opportunity.  I’m not retiring from the community.  I’m retiring from my job at the bank, but I’m going to kind of rewire and figure out different ways I can use my skills.”

He said some of those ways include giving back to the community through ongoing involvement with organizations like KidsMatter, Naperville Police Foundation, North Central College, and of course, the YMCA.

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