Message from the President
Forty and Counting
March 15th will mark my 40th year as a community banker. Forty years is a long time to do just about anything, and I count my blessings every day. Not everyone in this world gets to do something they love with an incredible group of people. I am realistic to know that another forty years are not in the cards, but another ten would suit me just fine!
The whole thing started in 1975 when I was asked to join a new community bank in Huntsville, Texas, that was set to open on March 15th. My wife and I were expecting our first child and I would have to take a $400 per month pay cut. My duties as an adjunct professor teaching business classes at Sam Houston State University would not end until mid-May, and my decision would no doubt be life-changing. Teaching was a lot of fun and very rewarding, but continuing on that career path would require a Ph.D. I started learning my duties as a community banker in March by going to the bank in the afternoon when my teaching duties were completed.
My career started in a time of government controlled interest rates on deposits. Our only option was what we would pay on jumbo CDs that were pegged at $40,000. My early duties included setting up the general ledger and posting the day’s debits and credits on a large manual machine that required the insertion of large yellow cards. There were no personal computers, no internet, no banking apps, and no online bill pay. Although the process sounds archaic by today’s standards, I learned more about banking in those first four weeks than in any other time of my banking career.
Three years into my career I was offered a position in Galveston County. Returning home meant my young son and soon to be daughter would be close to their grandparents and I would have more opportunity for advancement. Although I loved what I was doing in Huntsville and greatly appreciated the opportunity I had been given, I accepted the new position.
Returning home was a blessing and I had the opportunity to become a loan officer. The new position required more community involvement and I loved it! My career path was set. Developing relationships and helping people achieve their financial needs and goals was very gratifying. In 1982 our bank group opened a new location in Texas City and getting the bank started was my responsibility. The new bank was a separate charter because branch banking was not permitted. Deposit rates had been deregulated but having your own computer was only a reality for George Jetson.
In June of 1988, ten years after returning home, I was offered the position of President of Bank of Galveston, National Association. Mr. Doug Lee had been at the helm for twenty-two years and his legendary performance was well known throughout the community. He had announced his retirement and the job would be mine in January of 1989. There was only one personal computer in the bank, and it was the property of a part-time college student. Not in my wildest dreams could I have known the many blessings the next twenty-six years would bring to my family and me.
One of my first decisions was to hire a local information technology company to begin the process of installing desktop computers. The same gentleman continues today as our computer consultant. The first year we bought a failed bank and two years later we opened a second Galveston location. The restrictions on branch banking had been lifted. In 1999 we opened our first Friendswood location and changed our name to HomeTown Bank, National Association. Additional branches have been opened in League City, Alvin, Downtown Friendswood, and Pearland. The friendships I have made with our customers throughout our three-county service area continue to fuel my desire to be a community banker. I have been truly blessed.
The past twenty-six years has been made possible by the best Board of Directors on the planet and our highly skilled, devoted banking professionals at HomeTown Bank. We are a team, and our many accomplishments are shared by all. We’ve come a long way since the days of yellow cards and manual ledgers. I am proud of the way our team has integrated new technology and innovations into our operations, but even prouder of the way we have remained true to the basic lessons I learned 40 years ago about developing solid relationships with customers and helping them achieve their goals. That is the essence of community banking, and that is what I continue to emphasize with our next generation of HomeTown bankers.
Last month we solidified our leadership succession plan by naming Allan Rasmussen, Jr., to the bank’s number two position. Director Sid Farmer asked me if, in my wildest dreams, I would have ever believed twenty-six years ago that my son might someday assume my position when I was ready to retire. Of course my answer was an emphatic “no” because he was only thirteen at the time! I am very proud of Allan’s accomplishments, but I do hope and pray that I have many more productive years ahead of me at HomeTown Bank.
Happy New Year!