MUNCIE — After more than 13 years of leading significant growth and success for First Merchants, President and CEO Michael C. Rechin is retiring effective Dec. 31. Rechin will remain on the First Merchants Board of Directors and will serve as an advisor to First Merchants going forward.

Charles Schalliol, chairman of the board, said, “Mike’s retirement caps an outstanding period in which he led First Merchants Corporation to unprecedented growth and success. On Mike’s watch, First Merchants grew from $3 billion in assets to $13 billion, with income growth to match. Forbes has recognized and ranked First Merchants as one of the five best banks in the country in each of the last three years.”

Succeeding Rechin will be Mark Hardwick, current COO and CFO, who will become CEO, and Michael Stewart, current chief banking officer, who will become president. Michele Kawiecki, current senior vice president of finance, will become CFO. All leadership changes will be effective Jan. 1.

“It has been a great privilege to lead First Merchants Corporation,” Rechin said. “The management team we’ve developed is well prepared to take First Merchants to the next level as Mark, Mike and Michele have all earned their next leadership responsibilities. My wife, Debbie, and I consider Indiana home. We plan to stay for the foreseeable future, and I will continue to assist the new leadership team.”

Hardwick joined First Merchants in November 1997 as corporate controller and was promoted to CFO in April 2002. In June 2007, Hardwick assumed all leadership duties related to operations, technology and risk management for the corporation. In 2016, his title expanded to include COO, broadening his responsibilities to oversight of internal audits, facilities and corporate social responsibility.

Stewart joined First Merchants in 2008 and leads revenue generating activities in his current role. Prior to First Merchants, Stewart served in executive roles with National City Bank in Indiana.

Kawiecki joined First Merchants in 2015 having previously served as senior vice president of Capital Management and assistant treasurer at UMB Financial Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri.

First Merchants has 16 locations in the Fort Wayne area.

Cindy Larson is a longtime Fort Wayne journalist and is a Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly reporter. To submit items, send email to or call 260-426-2640. Ext. 3369.

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