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From left: Ryan Jones, Maddie Walker, Luke Fraser, Layne McBride, Mark Bybee, Jessie Tindall and Aaron Jernigan
Heather Mosley | SBJ
From left: Ryan Jones, Maddie Walker, Luke Fraser, Layne McBride, Mark Bybee, Jessie Tindall and Aaron Jernigan

2022 Dynamic Dozen No. 3: OakStar Bank

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SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Randy Johnson: It’s our team, our people. We really don’t advertise; we don’t really have a marketing budget. What gives us our edge is one very, very simple thing: We have an extremely strong culture, and our team understands the value of building relationships.

SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Johnson: Whether it’s a new project, new product line or evaluating a new product in the marketplace, there’s a lot of analysis that goes into that. But if you don’t have people who generate those numbers and understand the vision of the company, you’re not going to achieve any of those numbers you deem desirable. So, when we’re in a growth area, it’s people first.

SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Johnson: It’s going to sound counterintuitive, but first it’s allowed us to become more attractive to high-quality people, and it’s allowed us to understand OakStar is a platform. It is a for-profit company and we have enriched our shareholders and owners, but I think this platform has allowed us to do things we identify as being bigger than ourselves. We’ve built, say, 10 churches in Brazil. We use OakStar as a platform to serve.

SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Johnson: The reality is, it won’t always be as strong as it is. It doesn’t seem realistic. But we’ve had double-digit growth year after year. One of these days, I won’t be able to say that. I just sent the first-quarter shareholder letter out, and we made more in the first quarter this year than in the history of our company. We set a new curve. Sometimes that’s a little scary, but I will tell you with confidence this team continues to surprise me, and they do have the ability to have significant growth year in and year out. I know they’re not even beginning to get close to their potential.

SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast?
Johnson: Yes, I definitely think there is. When I feel that most is when I see a new face and I haven’t met them yet. I think, my goodness, there was a day when I knew every single person. We have a lot of different locations now; we’re now in three states, so that is a byproduct of fast growth that isn’t always desirable.

SBJ: Where is the tipping point?
Johnson: When our team spends too much time working and not spending the time they need being moms and dads and husbands and wives. That family thing is something we emphasize. If we start to get to the point where we lose that part of our core values, that would be our tipping point.

SBJ: What do you expect next?
Johnson: Our industry is in flux. It’s shrinking and becoming more and more digitized. We’re in a strange environment because people select a bank because of location. Meanwhile, lobby traffic nationwide is going down because they have banks in their hands. There will be some that will do it better than others. We will see a fewer number of banks nationwide. And we’re going to see demand for service.

SBJ: What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Johnson: Being told you can’t do it. I love to watch people team up on something they’re told they can’t do. (It’s) either going to shut you down or it’s going to make you dig in. This group, we dig in.

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