James Marcuccilli & Thomas Marcuccilli
In 1943, brothers Ralph and Tom Marcuccilli and business partner Selah Wright gathered a small group of investors to buy the Upland branch of the Citizens State Bank of Fairmount. Following that initial $28,000 purchase, the Marcuccilli and Wright families expanded their investment in banking to a value exceeding $8 million by the early 1970s. Today, under the leadership of Tom Marcuccilli’s sons James and Thomas, STAR Financial Bank has $1.7 billion in assets in 51 locations across central and northeast Indiana.
“Our family was very entrepreneurial, and growing up we worked in a variety of family businesses, from banking to stone quarries and amusement parks,” says Jim Marcuccilli, President and CEO, STAR Bank. “I remember selling cotton candy and novelties when I was nine years old. Then in high school, I worked at the bank as a teller.”
“As a kid, I started working at the bottom of the bank operations, sitting in a little room sorting checks into alphabetical order,” says Tom Marcuccilli, President, STAR Financial Group.
After college in the 1970s, Jim and Tom joined the bank as full-time employees. Because the founding partners understood the importance of centralization, they say that was a time when “the charters of the banks the partners owned were being merged. Home offices were also being relocated to county seats where bigger markets offered greater growth potential.”
Then, in 1985, the Indiana Banking Structure Reform Act was passed. This permitted bank holding companies to own and control more than one bank in the state. As a result, STAR Financial Group was founded. Today, it is the parent company of STAR Financial Bank and one wholly owned subsidiary, STAR Insurance Agency.
“As STAR has grown, we have remained dedicated to our father’s belief that honesty is the best policy and that two heads are better than one,” Jim says. “We all work hard, and together we have grown STAR Financial Group to $171 million in equity.”
“The growth has been organic and not through acquisitions. This is a tribute to our customers’ success, which is our success,” Tom says. “We are a community bank, staying in local markets to engage local employees and serve our customers.”
“As the company grew, our founders also believed in automation. Already in 1967 they were automating the bank’s activities with software,” Jim says. “Technology continues to play a large role at STAR, where we stay on the leading edge.”
“As we use technology for the solutions that benefit our customers, we are always looking at the long-term and working for higher efficiency and effectiveness,” Tom says.
The men say STAR has been fortunate because its 600-person team is composed of dedicated employees willing to respond to changes in the financial industry. Even as STAR grows and changes, however, some things remain the same: Jim and Tom continue to share an office.
“When Dad was alive, we had our three desks in one office. Tom and I still share an office,” Jim says.
Third and fourth generation members of the Marcuccilli and Wright families work at STAR. Many have worked in other businesses before joining the bank. Their education and this outside experience, Jim and Tom say, allows each to “be successful, and bring new perspectives to their work at STAR.”
“There has always been a special place for family business in Indiana. In partnership with the Wright family, we have weathered storms and enjoyed successes for 71 years by remaining true to the core values our families have always shared, while embracing the best management practices for growth, resilience and sustainability,” shares Jim.
In 2000, the difficult decision to move STAR headquarters to Fort Wayne was balanced by the bank’s gift to Indiana Wesleyan University of its 70 acres of land and building in Marion.
“We also built offices in downtown Marion and gave $500,000 to the YMCA to move to its new location,” Tom says.
“Our parents raised us to be competitive while also being team players engaged in the community,” Jim says. “That’s why we give time and leadership to the organizations of our communities and to the customers who make STAR successful.”