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Matthew Sosik of Sturbridge to lead Easthampton Savings Bank as Bill Hogan retires

Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of Easthampton Savings Bank, says its acquisition of Citizens National Bank in Connecticut is part of a long-term strategy to stay profitable.

PHOTO COURTESY OF EASTHAMPTON SAVINGS BANK Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of Easthampton Savings Bank, says its acquisition of Citizens National Bank in Connecticut is part of a long-term strategy to stay profitable. Purchase photo reprints »

Sosik, 43, of Sturbridge, was chosen from about 100 candidates because of his knowledge of banking and his ability to build good relationships with customers, staff and the community, Hogan said.

When interviewing candidates, a bank search committee focused on finding someone who had the “qualities that are most important to the bank,” which include team-building skills and an interest in being part of the community, Hogan said.

“It goes beyond the technical side” of banking, he said. “We were really focusing on the style and commitment and Matt was clearly the best choice and the best fit to further the culture we’ve built and the relationships we’ve built with communities.”

Hogan, 65, who has been bank president for the last 21 years, gave up his title as president to Sosik on his first day, June 17. He will remain the bank’s CEO until Sept. 30, at which point Sosik will assume that post as well. Hogan will stay on as chairman of the board of directors indefinitely.

“Sept. 30 happens to be my birthday and the same day that I assumed the presidency in 1992, so it seemed like a good day to step down,” Hogan said.

Reached at his new office at Easthampton Savings Bank headquarters on Main Street, Sosik said he is “absolutely thrilled” to be taking over at the bank, even though it wasn’t a job he’d considered until he heard of Hogan’s retirement.

“I’d known Bill and his reputation and I knew he had created a culture out here that was similar to Hometown. That’s what drew me to it,” he said. Everyone from staff to board members was friendly and committed to the bank’s mission and it was a “very solid working environment,” he said.

For now, he is commuting from Sturbridge but he said he plans to relocate with his family to the Pioneer Valley. He and his wife, Janice, have three daughters, Claire, 9, Anna, 12, and Ella, 14.

Sosik went through a long process to get the job. After Hogan announced his intention to retire a year and a half ago, the bank hired Smith & Wilkinson, a Maine recruiting agency, to handle the search process. The agency narrowed the list of candidates — from all over New England and as far away as Maryland and Ohio — to 16. A five-member search committee from the bank interviewed candidates.

Sosik has a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Bentley College in Waltham and began his banking career as a bank examiner for the FDIC. In December 1996, at 26, he became chief operating officer at Webster Cooperative Bank and he became its CEO five months later.

On his watch, the bank’s assets increased about 800 percent, from $33 million to $340 million. Those numbers impressed the search committee, Hogan said.

Easthampton Savings Bank’s total assets are just short of $1 billion and it has 10 branches in Hampshire and Hampden counties. The main difference in the banks’ sizes, for him, is that he now has many more talented managers and senior staff members to work with.

And while he said he definitely hopes to keep Easthampton Savings Bank growing, “it needs to be the right kind of growth.”

“There’s no urgency to grow,” he said, because there are no stakeholders to answer to. “So the growth should be measured and prudent.”

He said figuring out what that expansion will look like will be part of the long-term strategic plan he will create soon. “It’s on the top of my to-do list,” he said.

Also on his list is working to step into another of Hogan’s roles — active community member. Under Hogan, Easthampton Savings Bank has financially supported numerous initiatives and Hogan also volunteered his time, such as serving as chairman on a Riverside Industries fundraising campaign committee.

“Bill has done an exceptional job as the face of the bank and just as a philanthropist,” Sosik said. “Obviously, I have big shoes to fill.”

Under Sosik, Hometown Bank also contributed several hundred thousand dollars a year to communities it serves. He also served as an overseer of Old Sturbridge Village, a member of the board of the Webster-Dudley United Way and as a board member of Hubbard Hospital in Webster.

For the last month, the two men have worked just down the hall from each other and Hogan has begun the process of imparting all his wisdom, Sosik said.

“You can’t give up 40-plus years of experience in a day,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the month immensely.”

Hogan was hired at the bank in 1970 as a 22-year-old management trainee. He said the job included tasks from shoveling snow from the steps to handling loans and mortgages.

As he prepares to retire 43 years later, he holds the record for the longest-serving bank president in the bank’s 144-year history.

“I’ve been coming to this building for the last 43 years, so it will definitely feel different on the first day of October,” he said Tuesday. “But I feel really good about Matt and his leadership. I feel confident that he and the management team here will continue to operate the bank with the same level of safety and success.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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