© CEOCFO Magazine -
CEOCFO Magazine, PO Box 340
Palm Harbor, FL 34682-
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Steve Alexander, Associate Editor
Bud Wayne, Marketing
& Production Manager
Christy Rivers -
President & Chief Executive Officer
Old Missouri Bank (OMB)
Interview conducted by:
Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive
Published – October 31, 2022
CEOCFO: Mr. Harrington, you founded JamesMark Bancshares, Inc. in 1998, its subsidiary Old Missouri National Bank in 1999. Would you give us a little history of the bank and tell us about your role and how it developed to where you are today as President and CEO?
Mr. Harrington: We started the bank in 1999 and in Springfield, in Southwest Missouri there had been a number of new bank charters in our area mainly due to mergers such as Bank of America buying Boatmen’s Bank, which is a big one in Springfield. That led to a number of bank executives that wanted to be in community banking, so they left those big holding company banks and started their own. I got a chance to work for one of those.
I was with a holding company bank and went to work at a community bank as a new startup and loved the people there, loved the experience and thought it was a good deal for the founders of the bank. I was really intrigued by it. Those few key people that founded that bank, I learned a lot from them. I wanted to do what they had done, I thought it was really cool.
CEOCFO: Did you start off your career thinking it would be in banking?
Mr. Harrington: Actually, I worked in banking at my first job out of college. I worked for a savings and loan here in Springfield. When I was going through college, I was an economics major and there were lots of bank mergers happening, the savings and loan crisis was going on so I had to have the Wall Street Journal subscription as part of my economics study and it was just full of these stories about bank mergers, why they happened and what happened, what happened to customers, and just a lot of details that a finance or economics nerd would have found intriguing. When I graduated, I went from washing cars to searching for a bank job. It took me a while but I did end up with a savings and loan here in Springfield. I did have that idea halfway through college that I thought that was what I wanted to do. A couple times I thought I had made a mistake but it turned out OK now.
CEOCFO: What does “community banking made better” mean for OMB and its customers?
Mr. Harrington: To me it means we are tuned-
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your name?
Mr. Harrington: We are about to change our name to OMB. With the expansion plans we have Missouri does not necessarily fit everything we do. As we push for a more digital or regional footprint, that is what we need to do.
CEOCFO: Blake Miller joined OMB as vice president and controller in 2022. Can you tell us what Blake brings to the table and why he was right for that job. Also, have there been any other significant changes to your team over the past few years?
Mr. Harrington: It is the first time we have had a controller, but he has an extensive background in financial management for large manufacturing companies. He was a financial analyst for them. He moved into community banking just a couple years ago and was a community banker for a smaller community east of Springfield. He has varied experience and it happens to include banking which we like. We talk about “we live here too” in our marketing and he is the mayor of the town he lives in so we thought he would fit the way we look at things.
As we have grown, we have separated jobs that used to be done by just two or three of us. We have added a chief operating officer, chief credit officer and chief marketing officer. As we were new, our then CFO and I did everything essentially so this is just the natural progression. Our CFO that we have right now was doing things that were really more controller type functions as well as what he was doing, and at the rate were growing it became impossible for just a few of us to cover everything. Blake has an accounting degree and a master’s degree. I liked the big company experience that he had and it was outside of banking, it was financial related and I loved that he had that community banking experience and that he was really involved in the community. I think he is a natural fit for us.
CEOCFO: Your marketing team traveled to Denver this year as it won the 2022 Brand Slam award from the American Bankers Association in the website design category. I must say your website is quite impressive. Would you tell us what that award means to you and about the effectiveness of your outreach programs?
Mr. Harrington: As you can imagine I am so proud of what the marketing team got done and I am really proud that it was recognized by our major trade association, the ABA. That is a big one. Our website is the face of our bank to many of our customers. It is the face even more probably to our prospects. When you think about it in today’s world it is our digital branch, so for many people that is going to be their first impression of OMB. Even people from my generation, I start with a website at most so it is really important.
I have heard so many people out of the blue and unsolicited talk about our website. Our marketing team is doing an awesome job and pushing that look into all of our internal communications as well so we have a very consistent brand. Hopefully when you see our internal communications, the things we put out into the community, the advertising we do, you will think of our branch, and when you think of our advertising and when you get to our digital branch and our website, I hope you say “oh yeah, I saw their building and their sign.” That is our digital branch and it is becoming more and more important.
CEOCFO: You have social pages like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter and Youtube. What do you use those for?
Mr. Harrington: This is what our marketing team would say, and it makes sense, which is that they humanize our community banking experience. When you look at it, it is first the people and the places. We kind of showcase the town, the people in our town, the nonprofits. We focus in on all the things we do that make our communities better.
We also use it for marketing, although that is somewhat secondary for us. We are not really product focused on social media. We are people and community focused, so we believe in that. If we are running a good special on a deposit product or home loan or something, we are going to let people know because it is good for the communities and good for our bank, too. We lead with people on that part of it but there is also going to be a marketing component.
CEOCFO: You have branches in Buffalo, Springfield, Walnut Grove, Ash Grove, Mt. Vernon and Carthage. Would you tell us about the communities that you serve. Are they more rural or urban? What changes have you seen over the past two years?
Mr. Harrington: We have rural and urban. We have three banks in Springfield which is urban, I think our metropolitan statistical area is in the 500,000 range. Springfield is a county seat and so are Buffalo, Mt. Vernon and Carthage. Those towns range from 5,000 to about 15,000 in population. We have seen steady growth in Springfield and in our other communities it is steady but modest growth, so it is a combination of rural and urban. The majority of our banking assets have been accumulated in Springfield just based on its size. We like those outlying communities, they fit our customer demographic, that agricultural piece especially. Outside of Springfield there are just nice rural communities.
We also added the banks in Ash Grove and Walnut Grove. Walnut Grove was a drive-
CEOCFO: In the loans segment of your website it says, “From Home to Farm and Everything In Between.” Why is that a winning formula for OMB?
Mr. Harrington: I started as an agricultural lender and then I really got into banking. Ag lending helped us get a start. At the beginning, 50% of our loans might have been agricultural loans and that number is probably between 30% and 40% now. The Federal Reserve I believe considers anything over either 25% or 30% to be an ag bank, so we have that ag specialty. The rest of it is a lot of commercial business.
We say “home to farm” because we do a lot of home lending as well. I think we throw that out there mainly because farm or agricultural lending is something that not just everyone does, so we like to let people know that we do that. Of course, we do all the other traditional banking, but the agricultural lending is kind of a niche that we have that has been good for us and good for the community.
We have a team of really good agricultural lenders and most of them are still involved in running cattle and doing some farming on the side with their other jobs. Perhaps more than other industries, they really appreciate when someone understands their business.
CEOCFO: Which of the different industries that you serve provides the greatest revenue potential for your bank today?
Mr. Harrington: Agricultural is one of them of course and the other is real estate. Those are often larger loans that move the needle through the bank. That is mainly in our Springfield market. Commercial real estate whether it is owner-
For us especially in the agricultural piece, we have a fair amount in Missouri, Arkansas, some Kansas and some Oklahoma. When we get further away from our home base those typically are loans we do through a farm service agency or the FDA guaranteed programs, but our guys are really good at those and are finding opportunities. In Kansas particularly right now, some of the banks out there are not as familiar with the types of lending we do. We have someone in Kansas that is operating essentially from a laptop and pick-
CEOCFO: In the business segment of your website it says, “Business Banking Done Better Than Anyone.” What differentiates OMB?
Mr. Harrington: Extremely fast decisions. We have high-
CEOCFO: Are you more of a business/commercial bank than a consumer bank? What is the mix and would you like to see that change?
Mr. Harrington: We are much more a business or commercial bank than consumer. Our consumer banking opportunities will come to us as the retail or consumer needs of our commercial customers and their families and employees. Personal loans, home equities, vehicle loans etcetera, there are a lot of national competitors on those, credit card companies and capital finance companies. For us it is usually people that we already know, so I would not mind expanding that but it is probably not on our immediate horizon.
We have really grown our mortgage department so as far as consumer mortgage we just added a team of about eight people there. We definitely want to and have already expanded the mortgage piece of things. As far as the credit card and personal loans, that for the foreseeable future continues to be taking care of the needs of those business and farm customers.
CEOCFO: You completed a branch remodeling project in Ash Grove this year. What was the reason for the remodeling? Is branding important when it comes to your branches? Can someone recognize an OMB from its exterior or interior?
Mr. Harrington: That is a bank we acquired about seven years ago. It was built in 1979 so it has had some main issues taken care of on the outside. We had remodeled the interior, so this made it a good time to refresh the exterior and make it look like what our newer banks look like. You can tell it is an OMB, most of our banks you can tell that they are one of ours. The new one in Springfield, you can tell from signage at a glance, but the building was a previous bank building, so it is not there yet.
Yes, it is part of our branding to be consistent. We have picked up three banks by acquisition and we now have two of those three where you can tell they are OMB banks. The full branch acquisition we made went from a modular into an OMB bank. That is important. You take an opportunity when you can, and then you have to get around to remodeling and branding when you have time to do it. We want to be branded so that people know it is us.
CEOCFO: You have many years of experience in banking, what have you learned that will help you continue to grow your footprint and meet your sales objectives?
Mr. Harrington: As the bank has gotten larger and more successful, and easier to do, is to hire non-
As we focused on the culture, StrengthsFinder helped us help each other identify the things we are best at and how we can make those things work and improve our communication with each other. Over some period of time our culture has gotten to where I really like it. As that culture was built, it has made us able to attract lots and lots of new talent and a lot of that is banking talent, skilled lenders with books of business that they can bring to us. So much of it is just word-
You can have lots of banking experience but focusing in on that people experience and that relationship and culture piece is something I did not think of early on. I was so numbers driven and strictly bottom line but I got there faster by being a little less numbers focused. I say it all the time that happy teammates mean happy customers, and happy customers mean increased business, referral and repeat business, increased business means happy shareholders and that means happy CEO. It really struck me lately how important that was and I was missing that in the early part of my career.
CEOCFO: You really seem to encourage your customers to save, which is unusual today.
Mr. Harrington: Having a firm financial footing leads to a happier life. If you know you have money put aside for unexpected expenses or for unexpected loss of income, it is comforting. If you do not have to live week-
CEOCFO: How is the bank funded? Do you have shareholders, investors, if so, how many and are you looking to grow that number?
Mr. Harrington: Our holding company is owned by a group of mostly local investors, the ones that are not local are ones that wanted to move off and maintain their investments in the bank. Initially we had 35 and that number has grown. I do not typically disclose how many we have. It is a local group and it is pretty widely dispersed ownership. There is nothing close to a controlling interest in a group or family.
Our capital needs have been met either through retained earnings or selling additional stock. We have issued some debt that we inject in the bank and we have added additional capital over the past two years to support growth. Existing shareholders supply a significant amount of that. At certain times we would take on new investors, but for the most part our local group has supplied the capital we need to grow. We have plenty of capital. We have issued some debt late last year with the idea that we thought we would have some good growth opportunities.
Our capital ratios are good, we still have some dry powder as needed. What you like to do over the long-
CEOCFO: In closing, where will future growth come from for OMB?
Mr. Harrington: We have been fortunate with our organic growth and I think that will continue. Higher rates might slow that down temporarily but I think our bank will attract good bankers that will help our bank to grow. We have made an acquisition, actually we have done one whole bank acquisition and one branch acquisition. We will look for those as opportunities present themselves. We actively look for those. We will look for other markets, too. The markets we got into have been opportunistic. We were not saying we wanted to be in this market or that market with a couple of those, but because of mergers that took out existing community banks, we had opportunities to expand and serve a need in those communities. We knew it would be good for the community, good for us and good for the new teammates we took on.
I think organic growth, attraction of talent, potential acquisitions, and just looking for new markets where we see opportunities to add a team or serve a community because perhaps a bank has pulled out of that community, those are where growth will come from. We project growth of 10% to 15% per year. We have done more than that the last year or two but we are optimistic that we can stay at 10% to 15% annual growth rates and do it the right way. We will build a robust online presence that will probably help us drive deposit growth and then turn into more opportunities to do lending in our community. There is the digital piece of that, too. We are just scratching the surface with that.
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“You can have lots of banking experience but focusing in on that people experience and that relationship and culture piece is something I did not think of early on. I was so numbers driven and strictly bottom line but I got there faster by being a little less numbers focused.”