Our Community

Community banks are invested in their communities and their customers. Here at First Federal, we thrive when our customers and communities do the same, so taking care of our customers and looking out for the best interest of our community is ingrained in the way we conduct our business.

When calling us, be assured that you are talking to someone who lives and works in the same community you do. Go local and bank locally with us! The money invested in your local community bank will be reinvested in ways that drive the local economy, such as in the form of loans to local residents who want to buy a home. By driving local economies and creating local jobs, community banks are an integral part of our financial system and play a key role in our nation's economic recovery.

First Federal takes pride in great customer service and with reinvesting in our Van Wert and surrounding communities.


First Federal Continues to earn 5-Star Rating

First Federal of Van Wert continues to earn a Superior 5-Star rating from Bauer Financial Inc. of Coral Gables, Florida, the nation’s leading bank rating and research firm. Bauer Financial Inc. has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks and credit unions since 1983.

A 5-Star rating signifies that First Federal is one of the strongest banks in the nation. First Federal is proud of this continued achievement providing security, service and strength. Our staff at First Federal is what continues to drive this achievement, earning the trust and respect of the Van Wert County community.

To earn the Superior 5-Star rating, First Federal must excel in areas of capital, asset quality, profitability and much more. First Federal has earned this 5-Star Superior rating for the latest 105 consecutive quarters. Established in 1893, First Federal has been serving its local communities for 131 years.

Posted 7/02/2024 

Bauer 2024 Logo 


First Federal Voted Best Bank

The votes are in... First Federal is the winner of the "Best Bank" Award for the Times Bulletin Readers Choice Awards 2024! Thank you to the Van Wert community for your support, and votes, we appreciate you!

Posted 6/24/2024 

Best Bank 2024 


First Federal Announces Promotions

The Board of Directors of First Federal of Van Wert has announced the promotions of Diana Cearns, Lisa Lawson, Terra Bonifas, and Thad Eikenbary.

“We believe a key to our success are the talented people that work here.” says Brian Renner, President/CEO of First Federal. “We’re proud to announce these promotions, as these four individuals exemplify the dedication and service to not only First Federal, but our customers and our community.”

Diana Cearns was promoted to Vice President of Operations. She also continues to serve as the BSA Officer. Diana joined First Federal in 2011 and has over 30 years of banking experience. She is a graduate of Van Wert High School and received a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from The Ohio State University. Diana is a member of the Van Wert Optimist Club and Calvary Evangelical Church. She has also been involved in various community activities including Relay for Life. Diana and her husband, Paul, reside in rural Convoy and have two children, Courtney, and Cameron.

Lisa Lawson was promoted to Vice President of Customer Experience. Lisa joined First Federal in 2013 and has over 35 years of banking experience. Lisa is a member of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church and serves on the board of Crisis Care. She is also involved in various community activities including United Way Day of Caring. Lisa and her husband, Bill, reside in Van Wert and are the parents of Megan, Holly, and Abby.

Terra Bonifas was promoted to Administrative Officer. Terra began her career with First Federal in 2020 and has 10 years of banking experience. She is a graduate of Lincolnview High School and Ohio University. She serves as the board secretary for the YWCA, volunteers for the Chamber of Commerce Leadership council, and is the Treasurer of the Van Wert Rotary Club. She also volunteers for Career Connections and serves as a mentor for the Van Wert County Foundation Learn and Return program. Terra and her husband, Kirk, are the parents of two sons, Brooks, and Madden.

Thad Eikenbary was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Lending. Thad joined First Federal in 2021 after a lengthy career at Central Mutual Insurance. He is a graduate of Van Wert High School and Ohio Northern University. Thad has served on many community boards, and he is the current Van Wert City Council President. In addition, he also serves on the boards of the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) and Youth for Christ. Thad and his wife, Laura, reside in Van Wert and are the parents of Jacey, Lauren, and Carter.

Posted 4/16/2024 

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Clockwise from top left: Diana Cearns, Lisa Lawson, Thad Eikenbary and Terra Bonifas

First Federal receives the Van Wert Chamber Milestone Award

The Van Wert Chamber of Commerce was honored to recognize First Federal of Van Wert with the Van Wert Chamber of Commerce Milestone Award. During 2023, First Federal hit the incredible 130-year mark, celebrating a monumental business anniversary. First Federal continues to contribute to the economic success of the community.

Posted 4/09/2024 

Milestone Award 

From left, Thad Eikenbary; Lisa Lawson; & Brian Renner, President/CEO representing First Federal; & Mark Verville, Van Wert Chamber, President/CEO.

First Federal receives the Crystal Image Award

The Van Wert Chamber of Commerce recently held its annual dinner. The annual awards program recognizes area businesses and individuals for their accomplishments and contributions to the Van Wert area. First Federal of Van Wert, recognized for community leadership and partnerships with many community non-profit organizations, received the Chamber's Crystal Image Award.  It was accepted by First Federal President & CEO, Brian Renner. Many other staff representing First Federal was also at the event to share in the event.

Posted 2/17/2024 

Chamber Dinner Award 

First Federal is Launching a Second Location!

First Federal of Van Wert is proud to announce the launch of a second location in Van Wert. The branch will be located at 820 North Washington Street and will provide our customers and community with increased convenience and accessibility. “The Board of Directors are excited to bring an additional location to better serve the community,” says Pat Jackson, Chairperson. “It reinforces the commitment to our current customers and the desire to earn new customers.”

This significant investment, coupled with an evolving marketplace, has positioned First Federal to be the premier community bank in Van Wert County. “It’s an exciting opportunity for First Federal and the Van Wert community. We dedicated many hours of research, and we listened to our customers. There’s a demand for a locally owned and operated bank to help Van Wert continue to prosper,” says Brian Renner, President and CEO. “First Federal is dedicated to our core belief to help the community thrive. We’re demonstrating our commitment to Van Wert by building this second location.”

The branch will be a fully functioning banking facility with state-of-the-art equipment. “As we’ve done with our Fox Road location, the new branch will be designed towards helping our customers with all of their banking needs,” says Renner. “We’ll have modern banking conveniences in addition to the standard banking products and outstanding customer service.”

“We like to think that our actions confirm our commitment to the Van Wert community,” says Thad Eikenbary, Commercial Loan Officer. “To First Federal, commitment means engagement, promise and pledge. Those are exactly the actions we are taking by adding this branch location.” First Federal was first organized in 1893 and located in downtown Van Wert. In 1997, First Federal moved to its current location at 679 Fox Road. In 2021, the bank renovated the Fox Road building, which included a building addition and modernizing the current facility. “As we see the needs in the area continue to grow and evolve, we are growing as well. With an added location, we will be able to give the Van Wert community more access to meeting their financial needs,” says Suzie Grimes, Chief Financial Officer. “Our team at First Federal will continue to be dedicated to helping our customers and making them our top priority.”

“There is momentum in the county with new industry investing in Van Wert and the potential for more to come. The Van Wert Forward downtown project will add to the development,” says Renner. “We believe in Van Wert, and we believe opening a second location shows our commitment to this community.”

Posted 2/16/2024 

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First Federal Completes United Way Campaign

First Federal of Van Wert prides themselves in serving Van Wert County. Once again, they have completed their 2023-2024 United Way campaign with a 100% participation from their staff and an increase over last year. Not only do the employees contribute, but First Federal made a corporate donation of $2,350 this year to help lead the campaign in raising over $5,600.

First Federal has been a key example for many new industry and business campaigns. A big “Thank You” for the example they set for our community by contributing to help those who need it most.

Posted 1/08/2024 at United Way of Van Wert County Website

United Way 23-24 

First Federal Renews Annual Sponsorship with Van Wert LIVE!

Van Wert LIVE is honored to present First Federal of Van Wert as a 2024 Annual Sponsor. First Federal is committed to the Van Wert Live mission to provide entertainment that is SO GOOD it demands a return. This $10,000 partnership goes directly to bringing the shows and keeping ticket prices low.

"First Federal of Van Wert remains committed to helping the Van Wert community thrive. We believe in supporting the performing arts and entertainment in the community. First Federal is excited to once again partner with the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and Van Wert LIVE for another excellent year of entertainment." stated Brian Renner, CEO of First Federal of Van Wert.

First Federal of Van Wert has been a valued partner of The Niswonger since its origin. The First Federal Lecture Hall of The Niswonger, located off of the lobby, welcomes thousands of guests each year through business meetings, school functions, and special events.

"First Federal continues building foundations to help bring the accessibility of live entertainment into our community. Their financial contributions to show sponsorships, and as a returning Annual Sponsor, have helped make entertainment experiences possible for Van Wert and beyond. We never lose sight of the giving that they entrust in our organization to make our mission possible." states Quincy Thompson, VWLive Marketing Director.

Van Wert Live HQ is located at 10700 State Rt 118 S, Van Wert, OH and presents entertainment at The Niswonger and Fountain Park. The VWLive Box Office is open Monday - Friday 10 AM - 3PM.

Posted 11/27/2023 at Van Wert LIVE Website

Van Wert Live Donation 

First Federal Welcomes Public to Renovated Building

“As long as the Van Wert community continues to succeed we feel like we’re going to as well.” Brian Renner, the president and C.E.O. of First Federal of Van Wert, expressed this mindset often when showcasing the renovated building in preparation of their open house on Saturday, July 16. In the spring of 2020, Renner explained that the bank had such good growth that they ran out of office space. Rather than just build more offices, Renner decided that they could better serve their customers and employees by modernizing the whole building.

Foremost of these changes were to the deposit area, which now offers customers new banking features and more privacy. “In the old teller line, each teller position was side by side by side,” Renner explained. “This day and age, privacy is a big issue and we want to make sure our customers have enough privacy.” Instead of a teller line, the bank now offers three offices where customers can sit down and receive customer service, knowing that their information is secure and no one is listening.

Those aren’t the only new offices in the building. The modernization of the bank created nine additional offices in the building.  Renner stressed that it’s important for local companies to grow. “We are a local institution from a local board. All decisions are made locally so Van Wert’s very important for us,” he said. “We feel if Van Wert succeeds that we’re going to succeed.”

First Federal is offering the community more than just their banking expertise. Part of the renovations is a new boardroom open to the public for meetings. The new boardroom, or multipurpose room, offers a state of the art camera system, two multicast televisions, and a state of the art speaker system. “We’re really excited about that room, not only for a new place for our board meeting and our staff meetings but if an organization needs a place to meet they can use it,” Renner said. Numerous organizations have already been using the room, including the Van Wert Area Chamber, The Van Wert County Foundation, and The Van Wert Forward.

Of course, the public aren’t the only ones getting access to upgrades. All of First Federal’s employees were upgraded to sit-stand automated desks, in addition to multi screen computer setups. “They say sitting is the new smoking or something like that, where it’s not good for you to sit all day,” Renner said. “Whether employees stand for a couple hours a day, I don’t make them, but this gives them that option to get up and be able to work. I want to make it a good working environment for everyone.”

First Federal currently has 22 employees and four departments; deposits, loans, operations, and accounting. The four department leaders formed Renner’s building team. “A part of the project was [figuring out] efficiencies to make sure each department had enough storage, enough resources, and they’re in their own section that way they’re not running across the bank,” Renner explained.

In addition, Renner worked with Design Collaborative out of Fort Wayne, architecture group, and Structure First, project consultant. The construction took three phases, starting March 24 of 2021. Renner estimates that the bulk of the work was from March to December, wrapping up in January of 2022.

“It felt like forever but it was well worth it,” Renner said. “The project turned out very, very well and very close to how we envisioned the start.” About every area of the interior received renovation or modernization, whether it was paint, carpet, new windows or doors. “We stayed open during the whole process which we knew was going to be a challenge,” Renner said. “I commend my employees for working through that and I appreciate the patience and cooperation of our customers as well cause I know that wasn’t easy for them either.” The project isn’t quite finished. Renner revealed that they are still waiting for some backordered waiting room furniture.

Aside from that, the bank is moving forward and continuing to grow with the addition of a new commercial lending program. “What the future holds, we’re not sure, but we feel like we will be able to add employees when we need them and have the space to do so and the technologies to do so.”

Renner has received very positive feedback from the community. “It was a change for a lot of customers, but they appreciate the privacy. Once they get used to the flow of how the building is, everybody’s been very positive about it.”

Posted 7/20/2022 (Article from Van Wert Times Bulletin)

Open House Image 3
Brian Renner, President/CEO cuts the ribbon, officially opening the newly renovated building. Holding the ribbon from
left to right are department leaders Suzie Grimes, Lisa Lawson, Diana Cearns, and Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce
President and CEO Mark Verville.Open House Image 6

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Open House Image 5Open House Image 1

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Whether you are a first-time home buyer, looking for a new home, refinancing your existing home or in need of a home equity line of credit, First Federal has a variety of residential mortgage loan products to fit your borrowing needs.  If it is your business that requires financing, our commercial lender can help find a solution to your needs.

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