If you live in Algoma, you most likely not only know Russ Ritchie, but could recognize his friendly “made for radio” voice anywhere. He’s been a part of the Algoma community for 22 years, Ritchie recently announced his upcoming retirement from Nicolet National Bank at the end of the year.
Ritchie would categorize his career as “variegated.” He graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a degree in Environmental Engineering in 1977. After college, he worked as an engineering consultant, first as a project engineer and ultimately as a project manager. He also pursued a Master of Science degree in project management, graduating in 1992.
After an 18 year career in engineering, with focus on food processing, a new challenge presented itself in another industry, publishing. Ritchie served as the Editor in Chief of Food Processing Magazine, a national trade publication, for the next four years.
Ritchie, and his wife Pamela, always enjoyed traveling, and one of their favorite spots became the Lakeshore in Northeast Wisconsin. After spending time in Algoma, they felt a calling to be a part of the spirit of the city. At age 45, the couple decided to take a leap of faith. They both quit their jobs in the Chicagoland area and moved to Algoma, not sure of their career paths.
Both quickly found employment in the community. Ritchie went to work for Frank Wood as an advertising account executive for Brown County Publishing. Pamela became the director of the Algoma Chamber of Commerce, a post she proudly held for 12 years. When Brown County Publishing was acquired by Gannett, Ritchie warmed to the idea of trying something new again. He sought out a smaller company having never worked for a large corporation. The local Baylake Bank was about to change from a transaction based branch to a more sales driven team, and Ritchie’s sales experience matched the need. He became the Financial Center Manager of the Algoma office in 2008.
Through his career at Baylake Bank, now Nicolet National Bank, he learned a lot about banking, but was also able to bring his personal background and contributions to the City of Algoma with service on the Community Development Committee and the Algoma Utility Commission.
Ritchie shared the highlight of his career has been the satisfaction he’s gained from offering personal financial coaching. He’s had the opportunity to help local people who are experiencing high stress from finances. With good tools and working together, he’s had great success. Seeing those customers heal from that stress has been his greatest pleasure.
Big plans are taking shape for the future. The Ritchies have 4 children and 10 grandchildren all in Chicago and Northwestern Indiana. He and Pamela are currently looking for a home in Valparaiso, Indiana, the home of Orville Redenbacher and the Annual Popcorn Festival. This relocation will put the couple within an hour of all family.
When asked about hobbies or interests, Ritchie beams, “My single hobby is cooking. I expect when I get to Valparaiso, I’ll look for food related things to do. Reviewing restaurants, writing columns or blogs, or maybe even helping at a small specialty retail store. I also have a wild idea to grow Japanese vegetables and take them to the popular Valparaiso farmers market.”
When reflecting on the change, Ritchie adds, “When the merger between Baylake and Nicolet was in process, I debated if it was time to retire. But I love change, and managing change. It’s been a very solid transition, and my team couldn’t be more ready. I can walk away knowing that everything will run great-my team is very talented, and are committed to the community.”
“I’ve enjoyed working with individuals in the community to make Algoma a better place to live, and feel like I’ve made a positive contribution in the 22 years that we’ve lived here. It’s been a good run, a real good run.”
The community is invited to an Open House at Nicolet National Bank, Algoma – 205 Clark Street, on Friday, December 30, 2016 from 9-5 for cake and refreshments to celebrate the contributions of the Ritchie family to Algoma.