For better or worse, Ithaca is changing. The city is evolving beyond the quaint hippie-town it is known as, even as it tries to retain those same sensibilities in a new era. Steve Hoyt has had a front row seat to Ithaca’s changes, and even been involved with several of them himself. He retired in March from Tompkins Trust Company, where he had spent the previous 33 years working in the commercial lending department for the bank, ascending to senior vice president of the bank’s Credit Administration Division.
After 30+ years, Steve Hoyt hands over the reins.
Hoyt, who grew up in Dryden, said he watched for a long time as the area developed quite slowly before things began to change in the 1990s.
“It was kind of frustrating that there wasn’t a lot of development here,” Hoyt said. “A lot of [the change] was a result in the change in our political climate here, locally. There was a new mayor here in the city and there was just more reception here to development.”
That trend has clearly continued, particularly since the election of Mayor Svante Myrick. As localities grow, it is the bank’s duty to grow along with it while maintaining the flexibility to help both the entities that are expanding as well as those that remain locally-based and focused, an aspect of his role that Hoyt said had particularly significance to him.
“I don’t believe [the development boom] really changed the work at all—we’ve had a very consistent lending philosophy and credit culture here at the bank,” Hoyt said. He gave quite a bit of credit to that culture, which he said included a commitment to involvement in the community. Hoyt and his longtime colleagues Karen Parkes and Thomas Evans are all widely involved in community boards.
With his tenure now ended, Tompkins Trust is surely undergoing a brief period of transition, but it’s one that upper management believes they are capable of bridging because of those who will carry on Hoyt’s work.
“Steve Hoyt has been an outstanding leader of our commercial credit team during a period of significant growth for Tompkins Trust Company,” CEO Greg Hartz wrote in an email. “We are very deliberate about our succession planning, and we are very fortunate to have Thomas Evans with more than 10 years of experience under Steve’s direction, together with Karen Parkes who has more than 25 years of experience working with Steve, and a commercial banking team that includes several people who have 10, 20, or 30 years or more, to carry the team forward.”
Parkes, who works as the senior vice president in commercial banking, said Hoyt’s influence on the company was felt daily. She said his influence extended past even their branch of the company as he evolved into a stellar resource for information from the company’s other three branches as well.
“He was a significant influence,” Parkes said, who started at the company six years after Hoyt began. “He won’t tell you that, but he was [...] If there’s a sounding board, not just for me, in terms of lending culture and nuances of lending policy, but for lenders across the corporation, Steve is the go-to guy. He knew policy better than anyone.”
As for the future, Hoyt said the transition since he retired, at least from his outside perspective, has been seamless. Part of that is because of the lessons he imparted during his time at the bank. Evans spoke to that, saying that even though Hoyt was in a position which likely involved quite a bit of rejection, he encouraged those working for him to try to find ways to balance that out. Evans said that was the type of mentality he wanted to implement as he begins his time in the position.
“[Hoyt] was in the role where, as chief credit officer, you find a way to say ‘no,’ you look at what’s wrong with a deal and the risk associated with it,” Evans said. “But [Steve], on more than one occasion when I was a lender, he’d help me look at how I could get a deal. Look at what could be advantageous to the customer, that might even be beyond what they were asking for, for us to get the deal but also better for them [...] There’s nothing better than going back to a customer and giving them more than what they asked for.”