A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NewsMakers ’22: Lytle Thomas, born to be a banker, is dedicated to serving his customers and community

The fifth and final in a series about the NKyTribune’s NewsMakers of the year.

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

Lytle Thomas says he was just ‘born to be a banker’ and indeed he is quite comfortable in that skin. But he also reverts to his deep roots growing up on a farm when he dons his overalls to put down mulch in new landscaping on bank grounds or drives his truck to pick up and deliver tile for a new bank branch under renovation.

The point being, if there’s work to be done, count Lytle in. He is not one to stand around with his hands in his pockets. He is more than ready to do his part — and move things forward.

Moving forward is something he does really well. Since taking the helm of First National Bank of Kentucky in 2021, he has overseen the transition of the bank to Northern Kentucky, has established its headquarters in a beautifully renovated building in Fort Wright, and has recently dedicated a new branch in Florence. And, he has just started to hit his stride.

Lytle started in banking in 1988, at Fifth Third’s Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati branches and worked his way to senior vice president before joining Heritage Bank in 2006 and becoming President and CEO in 2010.

Under his leadership, Heritage Bank grew from $257 million in assets to $1 billion.

He left banking briefly in 2019, taking a notion that he wanted to try something new and exciting and different — a tech startup, Hawk Geosystems, which developed a device to tell contractors by GPS where pipes are installed. The device has now been patented.

So when First National Bank of Kentucky was looking for the right leadership to expand to the heart of Northern Kentucky, they found the right ‘born banker’ to do the job. The fourth-generation, Kentucky native banker became just the sixth president in the bank’s long and storied history. And now he’s helping make history too.

“First National Bank has a long history of serving the banking needs of Kentuckians,” said Thomas. “We can grow the bank and serve our community and have a lot of fun doing it!”

The bank’s first location was opened in 1881 in Carrollton. It served the needs of a tobacco-farming community. Today, the bank operates still in Carrollton where it has three branches and a loan production office but Lytle is growing its footprint across Northern Kentucky — and growing its community-connectedness too.

“We feel most fortunate to have such a great community leader in our organization.” said Gregory D. Goff, Chairman and CEO of First National Bank of Kentucky. “Not only does Lytle serve his community with tremendous pride, but is also a proven leader in community banking. Lytle’s leadership and dedication to excellence is an inspiration to our entire organization.”

Lytle Thomas with his team at the Fort Wright banking center.

Thomas focuses on customer service and serving the community. He knows that to accomplish those goals requires him to attract — and keep — employees who are customer-focused too.

“My job is to cherish the culture of the bank and to grow the bank in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati market with the same guiding principles that have worked for the last 139 years,” Thomas said. “This bank has managed through two world wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession and now COVID-19. It is humbling to think of the challenges my predecessors have managed.”

He also believes in utilizing innovative technology and efficient products to meet the individual needs of customers in an independent, small-bank environment that stays true to its community values.

“Lytle Thomas is one of the most thoughtful, dedicated and engaged business leaders I know,” said Brent Cooper, president and CEO of NKY Chamber. “His commitment to his family and friends, his leadership within the banking community, and his dedication to this region, make him one of the most respected and beloved Board Chairs the NKY Chamber has ever had.”

As for Thomas, he is just grateful. “It is a blessing to live in a place that has a growing economy and big city amenities with arts, sports, restaurants and culture and at the same time has friendly and welcoming people — a place where you are invited to get involved and contribute,” he said. “I am blessed to be a small part of such a great place.”

Thomas serves or has served on the Junior Achievement of OKI Partners board, Leadership Kentucky Finance Committee, and the American Bankers Association Community Bankers Council and Membership Committee. He has held leadership positions in various regional organizations including Leadership Kentucky, the Kentucky Bankers Association, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, HealthPoint Family Care Foundation, American Diabetes Association (Northern Kentucky Chapter), John Murphy of Ducks Unlimited, and American Cancer Society (Northern Kentucky Chapter).

He received the Trailblazer Award from the Boy Scouts of America Dan Beard Council, the Gold Leadership Award from Junior Achievement, and is in the Northern Kentucky Business Hall of Fame — just to name a few recognitions.

Thomas lives in Fort Wright with his wife, Stephanie, and two children.

“The Northern Kentucky Tribune’s NewsMaker award honors those individuals of character who have a track record of service to the community,” said Editor Judy Clabes. “Lytle Thomas exceeds all expectations and is deserving of the highest regard of our community. He makes the place we call home a very special place indeed.”

Get NewsMatch Match — Help the NKyTribune continue to serve

Help sustain a professional, accurate, up-to-date local news and information service you can depend on. The NKyTribune is a nonprofit publication dedicated to serving the Northern Kentucky region and providing FREE access to everyone. Your contributions matter — and will be matched by national NewsMatch funders through December 31. We need and appreciate your support. Send your checks to NKyTribune, 644 Braddock Court, Edgewood, Ky. 41017 or

Click here to donate online.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment