Associated expands financing divisions

Wisconsin’s Associated Bank is expanding its auto financing division and adding an equipment financing division, it said in a press release.

The moves are part of a strategy focusing on “higher-margin lending verticals” as well as digital investments to increase the pace of its growth.

Craig Stickney was hired to lead Associated’s new auto finance division. brings decades of auto finance experience. Associated also hired more than 40 people with expertise in auto finance, including several with senior leadership experience in the industry. Hiring for the equipment financing division will begin later this year, with its launch set for the first quarter of 2022.

Green Bay-based Associated is also beefing up its commercial middle market, small business and wealth divisions with an assortment of hires. Last month, Christopher Hamilton was hired to lead the commercial middle market team in Milwaukee as a senior vice president, and Doug McClure joined the bank as senior vice president and team leader in Chicago. It also named a trio of relationship managers: new hires Daniel Salazar and James Weix as senior vice presidents in Chicago and Wausau, Wis., respectively, and Christopher Briski, who was promoted to commercial banking vice president in Green Bay.

Earlier this year, Associated named Andrew Brueggeman a senior vice president in charge of the bank’s Small Business Association lending program with the goal of growing it.

Earlier this summer, John Thayer was named head of wealth management. The company also added strategic responsibilities to the plate of David Kuipers, who leads the investment services team, and promoted Stacy Stecker to senior vice president and director of private banking.

“Given the strength of our Midwest markets and our already solid foundation, we have a significant opportunity to strategically drive revenue growth across our core business lines while also expanding our portfolio,” said Andy Harmening, who was named president and CEO of the $34 billion Associated earlier this year. “Building on our momentum over the last 120 days and capitalizing on the strengths of our franchise, our growth focused and digital forward initiatives will position us to deliver higher shareholder returns.”

Associated also named a new head for its asset-based lending division, Raymond Temple, who brings more than 25 years of experience to the role, and promoted Doug Peacock to senior vice president and head of digital delivery.