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Growth leads Northwest Bank to expand leadership team

Northwest Bank's growth drove its decision to add a leadership role.

The Pennsylvania-based bank has evolved into a larger, more complex organization over the past several years. To help manage that, the bank will hire someone to serve as president and chief operating officer.

"Most banks our size already do have that role," said William Wagner, the bank's chairman, president and CEO. "We've kind of been an outlier by not having that position in our bank." Once the new president and COO is in place, Wagner will remain chairman and CEO.

Part of Northwest's growth came from acquiring 18 First Niagara branches last year in the Buffalo area. The bank had about $8 billion in assets in 2011. It's currently approaching $10 billion in assets, a threshold that brings an increased regulatory burden. Meanwhile, Northwest is preparing to open an administrative center in Amherst, as it bulks up its presence in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The bank has just begun its search for a new president and COO, and it will consider candidates from inside and outside its organization, Wagner said. Northwest estimates the process could take four to six months.

"I think the board is adamant in wanting the best possible candidate to fill this role, so we'll take whatever time is necessary to do it right," Wagner said.

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