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President and chief executive officer, Commerce Bank, Springfield, regional headquarters 1345 E. Battlefield. Commerce Bank is affiliated with Commerce Bancshares Inc., a publicly traded bank holding company operating in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. An Arkansas banker for 14 years, Hammerschmidt moved to Commerce Bank in Columbia in 1988 as CEO of the mid-state Missouri region. He became head of the Springfield region Jan. 26, 1998, and is now completing his 24th year in banking. "Commerce Bank has a rich tradition in Springfield. The bank was originally Citizens Bank of Springfield, which started in 1902," Hammerschmidt said. "It has been really enjoyable to get acquainted with a group of Commerce retirees that meet every quarter. They have been able to help me get a good historical perspective of Commerce Bank's position in the market," he added. Hammerschmidt is a member of the board of directors of the Missouri Bankers Association; on the board of the Ozark Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America; past president of the Columbia South Rotary Club; past president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce; and past president of Columbia Area Regional Economic Development Inc.

Age: 46.

No. of years in Springfield/area: Two months. Hammerschmidt is living in an apartment until school is out in Columbia. His family will move to Springfield in mid-June.

Education: Graduated from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Ark. Has completed graduate banking curriculums at the University of Colorado, University of Wisconsin and Southern Methodist University.

Early career: Hammerschmidt studied accounting at Arkansas Tech and planned to go into the family lumber business. His dad sold the business midway through his senior year in college, "leaving me with a great sense of urgency about what to do," Hammerschmidt said. He had worked his whole life, up to that point, in the lumber business. Fortunately, Bill Lemley, CPA and head of the business school at Arkansas Tech, was on the board of a bank and got Hammerschmidt an interview. He was hired in May 1974 and began "an enjoyable career in banking," Hammerschmidt said. In 1977, he accepted a position as marketing director for Arkansas Bank and Trust in Hot Springs, Ark., and in 1980 moved to Van Buren, Ark., to become the youngest bank president in Arkansas at age 28. After unsuccessful attempts to acquire the Van Buren bank, Hammerschmidt joined Commerce Bancshares to run the mid-state Missouri banks. "The background at the smaller banks helps me understand the community-bank philosophy and how it can be elevated to a super-community bank philosophy. The primary difference gets down to the resources and capacity of a larger organization, but maintaining the personal service and local decision making of a smaller bank," Hammerschmidt said.

Current projects: Within the bank, Hammerschmidt is getting used to the different economic structure of the market and how the bank needs to be structured to maximize its presence in southwest Missouri. Externally, he has agreed to serve on the Ozark Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He has been involved in scouting in central Missouri for several years on the Great Rivers Council. "Scouting is a unique program that provides youngsters with exposure to a wide range of desired values, builds self reliance and develops team-building skills that are necessary for getting along in the world. There is no better program anywhere. With three sons, I have a vested interest!" he said.

Management philosophy: "My management approach is one of participation and team building. Nearly all Commerce bankers are owners of 'our' stock. Therefore they have a vested interest in seeing our company excel. I have found that well-articulated objectives can be attained if Commerce shareholders are involved in developing the strategies and tactics to attain the goals," Hammerschmidt said.

Spare-time pursuits: Spending time with family, playing tennis, golf, basketball, and canoeing and bicycling

Family data: Wife Melinda and three sons: Robert, 12; Tyler, 8; and Bryant, 1.

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