Springfield, MO

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Brian Straughan, president; Jan Baumgartner, executive vice president; and Sherry Burnett, senior vice president
Brian Straughan, president; Jan Baumgartner, executive vice president; and Sherry Burnett, senior vice president

2013 Dynamic Dozen No. 4: Springfield First Community Bank

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In baseball, a batting average of .490 will get a player into the Hall of Fame.

For Springfield First Community Bank Chairman and CEO Robert Fulp, the bank’s three-year, 49 percent growth rate is just a good start.

The Springfield-based institution will celebrate its five-year anniversary in October, and Fulp points to a single reason for the bank’s success.

“It’s our people, period,” Fulp says of the company’s rapid growth amid a competitive banking enviroment. “Strong, experienced people, with strong local relationships.”

Despite an economic climate taking its toll on community banks, SFC was launched in 2008 with $22 million in startup capital from 71 area investors. Founders include President Bran Straughan, Chief Financial Officer Kirk Bossert and Executive Vice President Jan Baumgartner. The group pooled their decades of banking experience in the Springfield market with that of a select group of colleagues to build an independent local bank. In 2011, Fulp joined the ranks to complete the leadership team.

Since opening its doors at 2006 S. Glenstone Ave., the bank has grown to become Springfield’s ninth-largest bank, according to Springfield Business Journal list research. From that single branch, it now holds 3 percent of the shared market, with gross revenues totaling $12.5 million and total assets nearing $300 million. During the last two years, the community bank has increased new accounts by 37 percent.

Fulp attributes the growth to a preeminent focus on the customer experience, that he says is rooted in the freedom and flexibility that comes with local decision-making.

“As a commercial institution with a heavy emphasis on mortgage lending in the retail side, our staff must have the ability to make the difference in each and every interaction,” Fulp says. “Each of our people knows they have the ability to make any decision – 24/7 – to ensure the customer experience.”

Customer service is critical to compete in a market that boasts “a lot of great banks, and a lot of great bankers,” Fulp says. Putting his time where his mouth is, Fulp is one of several members of the SFC management team serving in leadership roles in communtiy organizations. The bank also has a charitable giving budget and partcipates in the United Way campaign.

Preparing for a changing landscape, the days of expanding through retail branches to capture business are over, Fulp says. The Internet has impacted banking as profoundly as any other industry, and Fulp believes more brick-and-mortar locations are not the answer.

With mobile and online banking, security is the most important part of the relationship, says Baumgartner. To achieve this, SFC leverages a long-standing relationship with Jack Henry & Associates Inc., which handles back-end technical operations, including SFC’s Internet banking, internal deposit, loan and ledger systems and Web hosting.

“Internet banking, remote check, automated deposit for business customers – all of these things are what customers now expect,” she says. “We can deliver all those high-tech services safely and securely, and still keep our hometown touch.”

While the future of banking may belong with touchscreen phones and tablets, Fulp believes the one-on-one interaction in SFC’s lobby is something customers want and will seek out.

“We have a very high level of walk-through traffic,” he says. “Those people have a choice to use the drive-through lanes to handle their business, yet they still decide to come inside. I feel like we’re all fortunate to live in a community where people still want to do that.

“Some people don’t realize it, but it’s not this way everywhere.”

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