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Williams brothers preside over multi-million dollar companies

Posted: Sep 10, 2013

There is a special bond between brothers, especially Jim Williams’89 and Jeff Williams ’01. Competing in triathlons and enjoying deep-sea fishing strengthen the brotherhood. But the Williams brothers share more than a last name and an alma mater — both are serving as top leaders in their respective multi-million dollar organizations. 

Two presidents in one family

Jim is the western market area president for First Federal Bank in Defiance, Ohio. He is responsible for all banking functions for his area of the bank, which has an asset size of about $350 million.

Jeff is the president of Financial Forms and Systems, Inc. (FF&S) in Noblesville, Ind., a regional print company servicing Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Colorado. Jeff became sole owner of the company in 2010, and has increased their sales to more than $4.5 million at the end of last year.

Jim and his wife, Amy (Butler) ’90, have three children, Brady, Megan and Kevin. He is active in his church, Napoleon Church of the Nazarene in Napoleon, Ohio, where he has served as a board member, Sunday school superintendent and member of a mission trip to Guyana, South America.

His community involvement includes serving as the president of the Defiance City School Board of Education and vice president of the Defiance County Economic Development board, and member of the Defiance Area Chamber of Commerce and local Junior Achievement board.

Jeff met his wife, Tiffany (Britton) ’01, at Olivet. With passions for traveling and serving, Jeff has been on mission trips to Tonga, Nicaragua, Romania, Mexico and Brazil. The desire to help others is also a characteristic he has instilled in FF&S, which is evident by employees’ volunteering at Shepherd Community Center, an inner city ministry in Indianapolis, and the five-day mission trip to the Dominican Republic they will be taking in October.

The success of the duo is also evident in their joint venture, William Brothers Real Estate (WRBE, LLC). The inspiration for this “hobby,” as they call it, came after watching the first season finale of “The Apprentice” together shortly after Jeff graduated from Olivet.

Laying the foundation

Studying finance and economics, football player Jim came to Olivet with the desire to get more involved. At Olivet, he had many opportunities.

“I was very shy and wasn’t involved [in high school],” says Jim. “Olivet allowed me to really get out of my shell, grow and develop. The environment, people and professors helped me to open up. In the end, I was senior class president, which was something I never really would have thought of before.”

Basketball athlete Jeff also pursued degrees in finance and economics. In the process, he fell in love with the great education coupled with the smaller setting and Christian atmosphere. This helped to set him on his career path. During a project in Dr. Don Daake’s small business and entrepreneurship course, Jeff identified passions for small business. Eventually, he started his own business and pursued a sales career.

“We had to write a business plan for a startup business,” explains Jeff. “My ‘job’ was to sell a new piece of equipment that Ken Griffey, Jr. had endorsed. Being in front of the class and trying to get others interested in the product was my first taste of sales. I really enjoyed it!”

Although their Olivet experiences were different, a common foundation was laid for both — the importance of Christ-centered careers and businesses.

For Jim, it was personalizing Olivet’s mission statement from Education with a Christian Purpose to “Business with a Christian Purpose.”

Jeff’s time at Olivet instilled the significance of being a Christian businessman and maintaining a Christ-centered business. Wanting to continue that growth, he became involved with Truth@Work, an organization seeking to change lives and businesses by helping Christian business leaders integrate their faith into the marketplace.

Always an Olivetian

“Wherever you are, there will be Olivetians,” says Jeff. “It’s cool to think that after you graduate, you run into Olivetians and immediately you have something to talk about.”

“Recently, I was calling on a prospective client,” explains Jim. “I opened the door for this man and woman. I said hello, and the woman responded, ‘You went to Olivet. You’re Jim Williams!’ I was completely floored. It was 22 years later, and she still remembered me.

“You didn’t even have to be [at Olivet] in the same four years. It’s just that you both went to Olivet and immediately have a connection and a bond.”

The Williams brothers have grown to be very close and have shared many experiences — including being Olivetians. “We followed the same paths — they were just 11 years apart,” says Jim.