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M News

M News: What's New With Us. What Matters To You.

Chasity Robertson

August 23, 2022 9:53 am

Why is it important to have local lenders who can make local decision making?

It’s important to establish that personal “one on one” relationship to really know the needs of each individual customer. A conversation between borrower and lender tells so much more than just words and numbers on a piece of paper. Plus, it’s a way of getting to know the community we live and work in.

What matters to you?

Starting friendships and being able to give the best customer experience possible is very important to me.  I have been in banking for a very long time, and the one thing I have learned over the years is that being accessible to my customers is the best way to create a positive experience.

To you, what is The Merchants Way?

Going above and beyond to make our products work for our customers and each of their unique situations and needs.  Our staff is not just an operator or recording on the other end of the phone.  We depend on our customers just as much as they depend on us.  They are an integral part of what makes us Merchants.

What do you like most about your job?

I love seeing people grow and succeed.  Being a small part of that success is very fulfilling to me as a banker.

How are you active in the community?

Over the years I have been active in Cullman Chamber of Commerce serving as a Chamber Ambassador for several years as well as a 2009 graduate of the Chamber Leadership Program.  I am also active with the Cullman Area Associate of Realtors and the CAAR Annual Charity Auction.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my daughter, Aubrey.  We enjoy searching for treasures and bargains at antique shops.  When I can squeeze in the time I also enjoy baking and cooking.

Posted by Kim · Filed under · Permalink

Charlie NeSmith

December 20, 2021 2:34 pm

Charlie was born in Oneonta and has lived in Cullman since 2002. He started his 37-year banking career in Birmingham in 1984 after majoring in finance at Auburn University. Charlie joined Merchants Bank of Alabama, now a division of SouthPoint Bank, in 2001 and currently serves as Executive Vice President, North Alabama Market President, Senior Lending Officer.

 

Why is it important to have local lenders who can make local decision making?

We can make decisions faster, we can meet directly with the borrowers, and we can be more flexible. At the end of the day, we like to have satisfied customers. Customers love quick, innovative, flexible answers to their lending and deposit needs from decision makers that live in the same town, understand the area they lend in and know the people.

What matters to you?

We strive every day to give the best local service possible. I am accessible day and night. All of my existing customers have my cell phone (it’s printed on my business card) and now many of them call, text or email me directly. I try to make myself as available as possible and I prefer visiting them as opposed to making them come to me. Open communication is essential.

To you, what is The Merchants Way?

I think our lending team is one of the most experienced staffs in Cullman County. If we receive a loan request that doesn’t exactly fit our guidelines, we will work as hard as possible to find a middle ground that will satisfy and benefit both parties. We then strive to provide better service than they would receive anywhere else.

What do you like most about your job?

I consider the people I work with to be family. I love them and enjoy being around them. Secondly, I enjoy being a part of someone’s successful business, new home, major purchase, etc.

How are you active in the community?

I currently serve on the local boards of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce and North East Alabama Division of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I am a member of Grace Chapel Community Church and the Cullman Rotary Club.

What do you do in your spare time?

I play golf and try to fit in enough exercise to stay in shape. Now that we are relatively empty nesters, Susan and I hope to take more “day trips”.

Posted by Julie White · Filed under · Permalink

Brandon W. McCain

June 19, 2017 6:21 pm

Brandon was born in Taylorsville, North Carolina, but has lived in Arab since 1999. He majored in business at Samford University.

While attending college at Wallace State in Hanceville, Premier Bank (formerly known as First Commercial Bank) in Cullman hired Brandon to operate a proof machine and perform their nightly processing duties. He has been in banking for 21 years before joining Merchants Bank of Alabama, a division of SouthPoint Bank, in February of 2017 as Vice President of Loans.

 

My favorite banking stories.

Being able to help my customers build the home of their dreams, buy and remodel their forever home. Seeing the look on their faces at the beginning of the project and at the end is very self gratifying.

Why is local lending important?

Most banks, especially the larger ones, enter information into their computer and someone in Tupelo, Charlotte, or elsewhere decides for you whether the loan can be made. Customers at those banks have become a number and the personal relationships are almost non-existent. When I talk to a customer I have the confidence in knowing the decision is up to me or someone local that is a phone call or text away. No longer do I have to “hope” a customer can get approved.

What matters to you?

I take customer service and relationships with my customers very seriously. I tell them I am available 7 days a week and in the evenings. All they have to do is text or call my cell phone after hours if they cannot get me during the day.

To you, what is The Merchants Way?

Treating customers like a person and not a transaction. Helping them achieve their financial goals. Whether that be building their dream home or buying their first brand new car.

What do you like most about your job?

Giving good customer service, local decision making, and working for a bank that truly cares about its customers.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my family, attending our children’s football, baseball and soccer games and also band competitions and concerts. Alabama football…Roll Tide!

How are you active in the community?

Attend Summit Church south of Arab. Have coached youth baseball. Sponsored Arab High School Football Player of the Week awards. Former President of the Arab Rotary Club.

How do you help the consumers or businesses you lend money to?

By simplifying the process with less hassle than our competitors and being able to make local decisions.

Posted by Chris Elliot · Filed under · Permalink

Eric Laney

June 1, 2015 7:22 pm

Born in Decatur, Eric has always lived
in Cullman County.

He attended Wallace State and graduated from Athens State Community College with a business degree and the Community Banking School at Samford University. He entered banking in 1994 but wanted to “get back home” and started at Merchants Bank of Alabama, a division of SouthPoint Bank, in 1997.

 

My favorite banking stories.

I don’t know if I have a favorite story. I always enjoy helping someone’s dream become a reality, whether that dream is a new home, car, boat, or tractor.

Why is local lending important?

Customers like having someone from their hometown to do business with. They like having that one-on-one interaction. Customers take comfort in knowing that their accounts, whether they are personal or for their business, are held and handled locally. Also, customers like getting a live person when they call.  They do not want an automated system.

What matters to you?

Trust. When you are handling someone’s financial needs you want and need them to have that trust in you. That’s why I try to make sure that I treat customers the way that I want to be treated.

To you, what is The Merchants Way?

The Merchants Way is community. We strive to treat customers as neighbors because they often are. Our customers are people, not numbers.

What do you like most about your job?

Lending money is not just about loans. It is about serving our customers, neighbors and community because lending affects a large part of our society. When you make business loans, usually that loan is for increasing inventory or buying a piece of equipment or building that in turn will help sell a product that may be bought locally. When you make a personal loan, usually that loan is for making some type of purchase that is usually spent at a local business which in turns helps our local economy. By lending to consumers or businesses, we help the community as a whole.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I like to hunt and fish. I also enjoy riding ATVs and raising a few cows on our small farm.

How are you active in the community?

I currently serve as boat captain for my son Grant and his fishing partner for the Fairview High School Bass Fishing Team.  I volunteer at Fairview Elementary where my wife Julie is a teacher.  My family and I are members of First Baptist Church of Fairview.  

Posted by Chris Elliot · Filed under · Permalink

Michelle Kimbrough

7:02 pm

A lifelong resident of Cullman, Michelle attended Wallace State and graduated from Samford University.

In banking for 25 years, Michelle joined Merchants Bank of Alabama, a division of SouthPoint Bank, in 1994 and now serves as a local mortgage lender.

 

My favorite banking stories.

There is no way to limit my favorites to two or three. With every closed home loan comes a great story. There is great satisfaction when you leave a closing table and the customer is excited to move into a new home. Or they leave knowing they have made a great decision by refinancing and improving their overall situation.

Why is local lending important?

I have worked for a larger bank, and there I felt our customers were just a number without a name.  Being local, our customers have names and faces. A lot of them are our friends and neighbors. We know their needs and have the flexibility to meet those needs. If you want the quickest way home, start at your local community bank where local lenders give you their time and their direct line. You get the guidance and answers you need that get you in your home faster with a lending relationship built to last.

What matters to you?

What matters to me is personal customer service. No two customers are alike. I strive to get to know my customer beyond any bank transaction. And hopefully allow them to get to know me and Merchants Bank.

To you, what is The Merchants Way?

Merchants Bank is not a “cookie cutter” bank. When you call our bank, you talk to a live person. We recognize that everyone is different and that everyone has a need or situation that is important.

What do you like most about your job?

This job allows me to meet new people every day. Not only new or existing customers, but I have the chance to work with great realtors, attorneys, appraisers, surveyors, etc. It is very rewarding for me to help people to not just get into a house but to move into a home. It’s great to know I have had a part in making that possible.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy gardening, shopping and vacationing at the beach.

How are you active in the community?

I volunteer with the American Cancer Society and have participated in Cullman County Relay for Life for 15+ years. I am also the Accounting Chair for Cullman County.

Posted by Chris Elliot · Filed under · Permalink

Ross West

6:35 pm

Born and raised in Cullman, Ross West started working at Merchants Bank of Alabama, a division of SouthPoint Bank, right out of high school in 2006 when he was attending Wallace State.

Since graduating from The University of Alabama, Huntsville, he has been working full time at Merchants in the loan department.

 

My favorite banking stories.

My favorite story happened before I became a lender. During the 2011 tornados that hit Cullman, our community was hit particularly hard. We stayed open after closing time to give our customers access to their money. Also, I like being able to help younger people get their credit started. Everyone needs credit and opening a small savings account loan or some other type of well-secured loan isn’t a big money maker for the bank. But it helps the customer for their future and hopefully keeps that customer with Merchants for a long time.

Why is local lending important?

This is a time-driven world. Quick decisions are important.

What matters to you?

This is my hometown, my family’s hometown. Merchants is a community bank, if you can’t help the community, you won’t stay in business.

To you, what is The Merchants Way?

I think being in business since 1907 says a lot for itself. But also the bank has been able to evolve over the years to keep up and continue being successful.

What do you like most about your job?

I mostly handle walk-in customers. I enjoy being able to help someone buy that car they wanted, maybe get that extra money they needed, or buy a new home.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to play golf, hunt, and go to the lake.

How are you active in the community?

I am a 2014 graduate of the Cullman County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program as well as a 2017 graduate of the Alabama Banking School at the University of South Alabama.  I am currently serving as board Chairperson for United Way of Cullman County.

Posted by Chris Elliot · Filed under · Permalink
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