First Financial Bank Celebrates 150 Years:
Client Success Stories

Since our founding in 1863, we’ve understood that the most important part of banking is building relationships. Meet some of our clients below and learn how they see First Financial as their partner on the path to success.

Curtis Burge | Gallman Family | Myron Bowling

First Financial Turns 150: Meet Curtis Burge

Connecting personal, business and wealth services--it all began with a conversation.

Southwest Ohio Orthopedics

For the past 30 years, Curtis Burge, owner of Southwest Ohio Orthopedics, has relied on First Financial Bank to provide financial services for his business, personal and wealth management needs.

When Curtis first started back in 1983, he was like any new business owner looking for financial support from a partner that provided service he could trust and count on.

“I didn’t want anything complicated. Having a financial partner with local service who gets to know its clients helps me do business.”

Curtis is very involved in the community; therefore, it only made sense that he start his business in an old historic schoolhouse in Landen, Ohio. The schoolhouse was part of sub district No. 4 and opened its doors back in 1879.

“This building is part of the community’s history. We wanted to make sure that it was preserved properly.”

Southwest Ohio Orthopedics

After eventually moving his business across the street to a larger space, Curtis and his wife moved into the old schoolhouse that they now call home.

“We wanted to be able to retire here and keep this historic landmark in the family.”

Curtis’ longtime relationship with First Financial Bank has expanded into his personal life just like his business. Not only does Curtis use First Financial for all of his financial needs, his kids and employees do too. “Southwest Ohio Orthopedics is like family and we have all been able to help in the business’ success.”

For 150 years First Financial Bank has strived to be your local bank that you can depend on.

First Financial Turns 150: Meet the Gallman Family

A client relationship that spans generations

Gallman Farms

Gallman Farms – the Beginning
When Louis J. Gallman left New York in the late 1800s and settled in Ohio to work in the oil fields on Grand Lake, he probably didn’t realize his legacy would live on for over 100 years and four generations as Gallman Farms. In 1898, he bought 56 acres of land in northern Mercer County near Celina, Ohio, to raise horses, livestock, corn, wheat, hay and five children.

He farmed the ground with a team of horses, and over time he accumulated 232 acres. Louis was also a banker and became president of the First National Bank in Mendon.

The Next Generations
Louis' son LeRoy (known in the community as Roy)spent some time in California and returned to the farm in 1928, living there until he married in 1936. Roy also worked as cashier of the bank in Mendon. He then worked for the Commercial Bank in Celina from the mid-1940s until his retirement from the Citizens Commercial Bank in 1969. (Through mergers over time, the Citizens Commercial Bank became Community First Bank & Trust and currently is known as First Financial Bank.)

Roy was a highly respected community banker, helping customers start businesses, buy new homes and answer their banking questions. He retired from the bank’s board of directors in 1977. Roy and his wife had three children.

Roy’s oldest son Louis Joseph (named for his grandfather and known in the community as Joe) began working at the Citizens Commercial Bank in 1972 as cashier after serving in Korea and gaining experience as a bank examiner. While Joe continued to help on the farm, his brother John took over day-to-day operations, and then moved his family to the homestead at the farm in 1975. At that time, the farm produced beans, wheat, corn, and finished out calves. In 1976, they built their first hog building with a loan from the bank. This building is still in use today.

Fast forward to 1996 when Joe’s son Jason proposed to take on the day-to-day operation of the farm. With a degree in animal science from The Ohio State University and several years of experience with Kalenbach Feed, Jason was well prepared to take on the job.

Gallman Farms in 2013
Today the farm is 650 acres, with a focus on raising hogs and Holstein feeder calves. Gallman Farms raises 3,500 hogs from “farrow to finish” each year as well as 400 Holstein calves. Since retiring from the bank, Joe makes his daily trek to the farm and is responsible to grind 100 tons of corn each month to feed the livestock.

Gallman Farms

Jason and his family live in the homestead on the farm, which dates back to 1895. On the walls of their home are family photos including the descendants of great-grandpa Louis, grandpa Roy and aerial views of the farm.

It’s true that the Gallman family has a heart for farming, including 11 year-old Alex, son of Jason who follows his dad around the farm helping with the hogs, calves and is now raising chickens and pheasants himself.

Gallman Farms

Joe Gallman commented, “Our family is very proud of our farming heritage and is honored that Gallman Farms has been recognized as an Ohio Century Farm. It’s rewarding for me to see my son and grandson continue the farming tradition started by my grandfather.

Through the years, Citizens Commercial Bank and now First Financial Bank have been strong financial partners with our family farm. With a loan for our first hog house in 1976, lines of credit for operating capital, and equipment financing, we’ve been able to grow and sustain the legacy of Gallman Farms for over 115 years.”

First Financial Turns 150: Myron Bowling, Myron Bowling Auctioneers

Myron Bowling Bowling Auctioneers

At a young age, Myron Bowling knew he wanted to get into the auction business. With start-up funding from First Financial Bank, he began selling general auction items in 1975.

By the 1980s, his business had grown into what is now considered to be one of the nation’s largest and most successful industrial auctioneering firms.

Myron learned early on that in order to succeed he needed a banking partner that believed in him. Being able to turn to a bank with local decision-making power and staff right in his neighborhood made a difference. “Early on, First Financial gave us advice that changed the way we do business today… it has led to a lot of our success.”

With First Financial as his partner, he has been able to grow and compete nationally and even internationally as a leading auction company specializing in manufacturing, construstion, transportation, and other industrial markets. After nearly 40 years together, Myron is confident that First Financial has the flexibility, expertise, and services to continue growing with him.

“As an auctioneer, you’re in a unique business that can carry uncertainty. First Financial believes in us and our relationship has been mutually beneficial.”