Trout comes at right time to fill vacuum in leadership Arrival in '91 coincides with drain on companies


August 04, 1996|By The profiles on this page were written by Sun staff writer Bill Atkinson.

The way Kenneth H. Trout sees it, he came to Baltimore at just the right time.

The 48-year-old Trout was named president of Signet Bank's Maryland region in 1991 when some of the city's largest businesses, such as MNC Financial and USF&G Corp., were in RTC financial crisis, and other companies were simply selling out.

The sweeping changes wiped out part of Baltimore's business leadership, leaving a vacuum for newcomers such as Trout to fill.

"I came here at a time that was ripe," he said. "You have seen sort of a shift in power. Today, we have become more of a player."

Trout sits on 11 boards ranging from the B&O Railroad Museum to the Neighborhood Housing Services to the National Aquarium. He's also chairman of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Maryland Business Roundtable Foundation.

He oversees a staff of 350 people and is in charge of commercial banking, which has $3.2 billion in assets, and leasing, which has nearly $1 billion in assets. He is also one of seven top executives at Richmond, Va.-based Signet who sits on the company's management committee.

Trout has authority to sign off on commercial loans of up to $25 million, the maximum Signet will lend to one customer before bringing in other banks to participate. But most loans need signatures from two bank officials, Trout said.

Trout said decisions to make consumer loans are made locally and home loans are made through Signet's mortgage subsidiary, which has offices in Maryland.

"What can somebody do 300 miles away?" Trout said. "They don't know your customer."

Trout, who lives in Lutherville with his wife and two children, graduated in 1970 from Methodist College in North Carolina with degrees in economics and business administration. He joined Bank of Virginia Co. in Richmond, and was responsible for branch administration and the operations division. In 1986, Bank of Virginia merged with Baltimore's Union Trust to form Signet. At that time, Trout was heading commercial banking in Washington and in Maryland until April 1991, when he was named president of Signet's Maryland region.

Trout's goal is to stay in the field, but he acknowledges that if a better opportunity arises within the company, he'd consider it.

"Most corporations, when they pass the cookie tray, if you don't take the cookies, the tray doesn't come around again."

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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