New successor to PNC's Richart optimistic about economic future

John L. Gohmann, left, recently succeeded Harry T. Richart, III, as PNC's regional president for Lexington and Central Kentucky. Gohmann says PNC is in a competitive position.
John L. Gohmann, left, recently succeeded Harry T. Richart, III, as PNC's regional president for Lexington and Central Kentucky. Gohmann says PNC is in a competitive position. Photo by Scott Sloan

Lexington recently lost a well-regarded executive to retirement, as banker Harry T. Richart III, who led PNC and National City before that in the area, left the company at the end of March.

His replacement, John L. Gohmann, who joined PNC in 2009 as wealth management director, took time last week to answer questions about his new role and the banking landscape in Central Kentucky.

Question: Your predecessor was among Lexington's most prominent business executives. How do you view his legacy both to the company and to the community? And what does it feel like to step into his role?

Answer: "Harry is both a mentor and a friend, and I feel truly humbled by the opportunity to follow him and continue building a great bank.

"As you know, Harry served as more than a great banker over the past three decades. He's been a community leader and champion of Lexington and the region. His legacy for both the company and community is one of tremendous leadership.

"Harry set the bar very high. I am confident that I can build on his success."

Q: What are among your short- and long-term goals as you lead PNC locally?

A: "We are fortunate that PNC is in a great position and very competitive. We excel at local customer service and have built strong relationships, while having the backing of one of the nation's strongest and best-capitalized banks.

"Going forward, my job is to bring my energy and enthusiasm to managing this bank. There really isn't a magic bullet; it is just a function of working as hard as we can every day, being completely dedicated to our customers. While there may be challenges ahead, I couldn't be more excited about leading PNC and competing in Lexington and Central Kentucky."

Q: How would you describe the level of interest in commercial loans at this time in the Lexington market? Do you feel it's picking back up from slower times during the recession, and what do you feel it says about business sentiment on the economy for the time being?

A: "PNC's spring economic outlook survey indicates businesses are cautiously optimistic about the economy and feel the worst part of the recession is behind us.

"During any economic downturn and subsequent recovery, businesses correctly take a conservative approach to managing their balance sheets.

"PNC continues to be committed to serving our customers, helping them manage their finances through this cycle and be positioned well for future economic fluctuations. In general, I think business sentiment has improved over the last 12 months, as the economic recovery continues."

Q: While PNC holds the largest market share statewide, according to FDIC data as of last June, the bank trails Central Bank, Chase and Fifth Third in the Lexington area. What are your thoughts on your status in the Lexington market, and how do you plan to grow here to match your strength statewide?

A: "There are a number of factors that indicate the strength of a bank and its ability to grow market share, with the FDIC reports being only one measure.

"PNC's strength in Lexington is our people and their commitment to serve our customers. We also have tremendous resources allowing us to compete as a full-service bank. ... The strength of PNC is our skilled people, coupled with our competitive product set and ongoing investment in technology, which will enable us to remain competitive and grow for many years to come.

"That being said, the easiest way to determine the strength of a bank is its ability to attract the best employees and the best customers. The two go hand in hand, and our ability to do both is indicative of where PNC is headed in Lexington. We are positioned very well to serve more customers, to strengthen the community which is the foundation for a strong local economy and to grow our business."