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2018 Men of the Year: Thomas Fowler Jr.

State Bank of Southwest Missouri

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In 1985, Thomas Fowler Jr. was part of a team that organized investors to open State Bank of Southwest Missouri, and he’s led it ever since. It’s but one leadership role Fowler has tackled in decades of professional and personal service.

“Our lives are filled with opportunities to help others,” says Fowler, State Bank’s president and CEO for almost 33 years. “Opportunities have arisen for me through many areas of my life. … Sometimes, it is just giving a boost, a talk, a helping hand or extending a kindness or a good word. There are many ways for people to become successful – through counseling, training, teaching, forgiving or just looking for opportunities to give a hand up or to work out a problem in a different way. Improving the lives of others adds happiness and blessings to the one who is helping.”

After completing undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, Fowler earned an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Fowler was president and CEO of United Missouri Bank of Springfield before starting State Bank.

“I was one of the leaders who worked with investors, CPAs, attorneys and incorporators, state and federal officials to accumulate and formulate the information necessary to obtain a bank charter,” Fowler says.

Creating a family-friendly workplace at State Bank where employees can maximize their potential, both at home and at work, has been one of his priorities.

“Leadership has been important in developing that culture,” he says.

Fowler’s list of civic involvement across disciplines is extensive. He has served on the boards of multiple organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America Ozark Trails Council, Missouri State University, Springfield Ballet Inc. and the Missouri Independent Bankers Association.

For six years, Fowler also served as chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.

“I was involved with raising money, coordinating and appearing at events, supervising the staff working with elected officials, from the governor to the state representatives on the state level and for all the county elected officials throughout the state. It is a nonpaid job that requires a great deal of time and leadership,” he says. “I have served as the leader of election campaigns too numerous to count, including the leader of statewide presidential campaigns, district leader of gubernatorial campaigns, leader of numerous county campaigns and chairman of a mayoral campaign.”

Fowler seeks to influence others through leadership, including at his church, First and Calvary Presbyterian Church, where he’s been a deacon, board member and trustee.

“It is my opinion that my involvement in State Bank, politics and civic affairs have all contributed to the success of others,” he says. “When State Bank was formed over 32 years ago, our goal was to make it a business that would flourish but would also serve as a building block for employees. We wanted to help everyone who worked there achieve their goals in life.”


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