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Huntington Bank ABL: From Zero to $1 Billion in Under 60 Months

Date: Sep 15, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Moving a bank’s asset-based lending portfolio from zero to $1 billion during the final days of the recession and the cycle of restrained economic growth that has followed is indeed no small feat. Yet such is the case with Huntington Bank’s Asset-Based Lending Group.  ABL Advisor caught up with Robert Mace, the group’s managing director, nearly two years to the date that Mace assumed leadership of the group from his predecessor James Cannella.

Unique Skills and Opportunities Converge

A native of New Jersey, Mace landed a spot in Chemical Bank’s credit training program and eventually became involved with leveraged lending at Summit Bank most notably lending to the media and communications sector. From Summit, Mace made the move to PNC in Philadelphia lending to the same sector.  By 2001, Mace was working for Citizens Bank in Boston. That move was significant in terms of the opportunity to hone his skills in workout under Citizen’s then president, Stephen Steinour.   

Mace joined the Ohio-based Huntington Bank in 2009. Steinour himself had moved over to Huntington as chairman, president, and CEO only months before. He recalls, “I had done a myriad of things at Citizens, including a stint in workout. Back in 2001, there was a low point in the media and communications sector … that’s where I gained my workout experience. I moved from workout to become a credit officer covering Citizen’s flagship middle-market business in Massachusetts as well as franchise lending across the country. Throughout all the changes, I kept a finger in leveraged lending.”

Photo of Robert D. Mace - Managing Director, Asset-Based Lending - Huntington Bank

By the time Mace had joined Huntington, he had gained national recognition for his work with troubled debt restructurings. He joined as director of operations, a position he held with Fred Manning, working primarily with regulators and as he notes, “straightening out some issues.” Very early on, however, Steinour made the move to solidify Huntington’s asset-based lending offerings. Mace explains, “Steve recognized the fact that as Huntington was based in the Midwest, asset-based lending would play an important role in the bank’s success. Prior to that, the bank’s ABL product was more like ‘asset-based lite’ and was offered through the middle-market group. It was then we saw the need to formalize our presence in the ABL marketplace.”

By 2012, Mace was selected to lead Huntington’s asset-based lending group and was tasked with transitioning the unit from a transactional-based model to a relationship-based model. He says, “At the time, the bank took a step back and asked, ‘We’ve had success here, but is the transactional strategy the method we want to build our business around?' I had been spotted to move over to take the group in the direction of Huntington’s broader relationship-based model.”

To say the least, Mace was up for the task. After all, he was drawn to Huntington by virtue of its 143-year history, its ability to remain independent and its tradition of relationship banking. Today, Mace reports to Nicholas Stanutz, who is also responsible for Huntington’s commercial real estate and auto finance businesses.

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