Message from the President
Change Is In the Air
Like most businesses, the world of community banking is ever-changing. Whether it is new hires or retirements, new rules versus old rules, or a new Fed Chairman, change is in the air.
We recently honored our 2013 group of dedicated retirees. Executive Vice President Gary Gilliland had an outstanding life-long banking career in Galveston. He joined HomeTown Bank in June of 1993 and quickly made an impression with his loan expertise and large number of loyal of customers. I personally have never seen a loan officer more productive than Gary Gilliland. In addition, he was featured in our national independent banker’s magazine for his incredible work after Hurricane Ike. Gary remained on the Island through the storm, checked on damages and made numerous phone calls to customers and neighbors advising them of the condition of their homes and businesses.
Janet Choate joined the bank in February of 1972. She worked her way through the bank’s many departments and spent the past 20 years managing our operations and serving as a lender at our Seawall location. How fortunate we have been to have a professional banker with Janet’s many talents for almost forty-two years!
Nell Smith joined the bank in January of 1988 as a teller at the main bank. Because of her expertise and great people skills, she was promoted to Head Teller. It was not unusual to see our customers waiting in line to see Nell while other teller windows were available. Nell knew her customers very well, and helped many of them avoid scams because of her knowledge of their finances. She is a true treasure and will be sorely missed.
With retirements come new opportunities. Hopefully our new employees will see HomeTown Bank as a long-term career choice. Of the five employees who have been with us for forty years or more, I thought Janet Choate would be the last of the group. But to my joy and surprise, Lulu Higgins Plair is back to work on a part-time basis. Lulu retired in December of 2012, but as of January 6th she is back on the job at the main bank in Galveston. Welcome back, Lulu!
Speaking of changes, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau mortgage rules went into effect in January. The new rules are very demanding and require the lender to follow a rigid format. HomeTown Bank is ready to meet the challenge and will continue to offer our traditional home mortgages. As the new bureau gathers steam there will be more rules and regulations for the banking industry and other types of financial services businesses. Hopefully the Washington bureaucrats will focus on the many non-regulated businesses and let the nation’s community banks continue to do a great job of serving our customers.
Last but certainly not least, the powerful Federal Reserve System welcomed a new leader at the end of January. Congratulations to Chairwoman-elect Janet Yellen on her new appointment. The Fed Chair is one of the most powerful positions in the world, and her leadership will be paramount in our nation’s economic recovery.
One thing that has not changed is HomeTown Bank’s continued success. Our preliminary 2013 reports indicate record levels in deposits, capital and loans, with our loan officers setting a new record in loan production–which means we did more than ever last year to help businesses, individuals and families achieve their dreams. For 2014, statistical goals are being formulated but our primary goal will always be exemplary customer service.
Happy New Year!