THIRD FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSN. OF CLEVELAND, one of the largest savings and loans in Cleveland, has been a stable lending institution with headquarters in the Broadway area since 1938. Founded by BEN S. STEFANSKI with $50,000 in capital, Third Federal opened on 7 May 1938 at 6875 Broadway in Cleveland's Polish community. By 1940 it had 3 offices, including the main office at 7007 Broadway, where it was still located in 2005. Wladyslaw J. Nowak, publisher of MONITOR CLEVELANDSKI, was Third Federal's first president; Stefanski began as its secretary-treasurer and was president by 1948, directing a company whose assets had grown to $9 million. The greatest period of growth in Third Federal's history came in the 1970s, when 6 mergers increased its holdings by $200 million. By 1983, the savings and loan had 16 branch offices and $1.08 billion in assets.
Third Federal's policy has always been to offer savings and checking accounts, make home mortgages, keep a strong capital base, and maintain a cost effective operation. In 1985 it was the leading mortgage lender in the Cleveland area, writing mortgages worth $152.2 million. Its nearest competitor, AMERITRUST provided $133.7 million in mortgage loans. Although founder Ben Stefanski retired as chief executive in 1987, his son Marc assumed control of the mutual savings association when he became CEO in 1988, thus ensuring family leadership into the near future. With the failure of so many savings and loans across the country in the late 1980s, Third Federal stood out as a shining exception. In 1989 Third Federal was designated as the best-run bank in the country by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Financially secure, the savings and loan had 25 branch offices in northeast Ohio, nearly $5 billion in assets, and a net worth of $500 million at the end of 1994. In 1999, Third Federal purchased Oceanmark Bank, a North Miami Beach, FL-based thrift with $70.5 million in deposits and assets for $12.5 million. The acquisition gave Third Federal its first presence in the state, though it was soon followed by the opening of an additional five Third Federal branches in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area later that year. By 1999, Third Federal's assets reached $6.2 billion. The Florida acquisitions, were followed by others, including Penfed Bancorp of Kentucky and Dublin, OH-based Ohio Central Savings in 2000. By the end of that year, Third Federal announced that they would be serving as both lender and developer for a project to construct nearly 200 single-family homes in the SLAVIC VILLAGE/BROADWAY neighborhood. By 2000, Third Federal became the largest savings and loans association in the United States. By 2003, assets exceeded $8 billion, with $2 billion in deposits in the Florida branches. In 2005, Third Federal Savings and Loan continued to be headquartered at 7007 Broadway. At the time, Marc Stefanski served as chairman and CEO.