By April Abernathy
For The Herald Bulletin
For almost 30 years, Mike Baker has been a part of the banking community in Madison County.
Baker, the regional president of North Central and Muncie regions of First Merchants Bank, entered the banking industry in 1983.
“In high school, my friend’s father was the president of Anderson Banking Company and he suggested I go into banking,” Baker said.
The suggestion turned into a career for Baker, an Anderson High School and Ball State University graduate. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from Butler University.
“He felt he needed to continue his education and went to Butler at night,” Bob Pensec said. “He didn’t just take one class at a time, either, and graduated in a few years.”
Pensec, a close friend, met Baker 20 years ago when Pensec decided to refinance his home.
“Although he was quite a bit younger, we had a lot of the same interests,” Pensec said. “Our wives met, and then we just started doing things together and still take family vacations.”
In 1994, with a small group of business people from Anderson, Baker, along with Pensec, helped open Anderson Community Bank, which was sold to First Merchants in 1999.
“We were always open to new business coming for loans,” Pensec said. “If people didn’t meet the criteria, he would work with them and try to get them the help they needed to be successful.”
Baker’s fascination with people keeps him in the business.
“I love to see how people get things done,” he said. “Regardless of the business or industry, it’s all about the compassion and dedication of an owner. It’s affirming to see that hard work and dedication.”
When Baker isn’t at the bank, he can usually be found with his wife and two sons on the lake in northern Indiana.
“We’re water sports people,” he said. “Is it hard to water ski? Like anything else, it just takes practice.”