By: Lorrie Jackson | Category: Financial Services | Issue: February 2007
Tom Bayless, Senior Executive Vice President, RCB Claremore
The 1930’s marked a time of tremendous turmoil in the United States as the Great Depression ravaged the country’s landscape. During this time, fortunes that had taken generations to build were lost and many a financial institution closed its doors, never to open them again. Oklahoma was one of the hardest states hit, and yet, in 1936, RCB (at that time Rogers County Bank) opened for the first time in Claremore, braving the odds to provide quality, hometown banking services.
More than seventy years later, RCB is still in business and is still providing those great quality services. However it is no longer just Claremore’s hometown bank, though it still strives to create that distinctive hometown feel. RCB now has eighteen different branches across the state and according to Tom Bayless, Senior Executive Vice President at RCB, 2006 could arguably have been called the most phenomenal year of growth in the bank’s history.
“We started our expansion last year by making two acquisitions through our holding company: The Bank of Nichols Hills in Oklahoma City and Pioneer Bank and Trust in Ponca City,” Bayless relates. “On December 1, 2006 we merged the bank of Nichols Hills into RCB and will do the same with Pioneer Bank on February 9.” This project has been part of a process that Bayless describes as twofold: expanding into existing markets while still creating new ones. RCB also grew last year by starting brand new branches. In January of 2006, they finished building Pryor RCB MidAmerica Bank on Highway 69 in Pryor, right in front of the new Wal-Mart Supercenter. In September, they opened a new facility in Catoosa.
Even with expansion and growth going forward at full throttle, RCB did not forget to take care of its existing branches in 2006. They completed a corporate office in Claremore, which, as Bayless describes, “allowed us to expand our training facilities and gave us room for marketing, sales and a print shop. We need to educate and train our personnel as we grow.” RCB also continued to reinvest in present facilities, completing a major remodel on Pryor’s original downtown RCB location and beginning a remodel on Owasso’s 86th Street North branch.
Since technology is an integral part of our world, RCB knows it is important to keep up with the latest advances. The most exciting innovation to enter RCB’s world in 2006 was Remote Deposit Capture, which as Bayless says, brings the bank to the customer. “This allows us to put a scanner in a business so they can run their checks through on location rather than having to bring them to an RCB branch for deposit each day,” Bayless explains. “We receive the images immediately, process them and credit the business’s account. It provides a tremendous advantage to the customer, especially small businesses because it centralizes their accounting feature.”
In a similar vein, RCB also instituted Branch Capture in 2006. With Branch Capture, each RCB location can scan checks and send the full image cash letter to the main branch, eliminating the need to transport checks between banks. “We really saw the benefit of this during the November 30 snowstorm,” Bayless recalls. “Before, we would have had to wait because couriers couldn’t have transported the checks. With Branch Capture, we were able to process everything immediately.”
Branch Capture makes it easier for each RCB branch to maintain a sense of independence, which is something RCB holds in utmost importance. “Even with eighteen locations, we want to make sure each president has decision making capabilities. We want them to be able to take care of customers without feeling they have to contact corporate to get instructions for every little thing,” Bayless says. “This is a challenge as you get larger. We call the original branch in Claremore the ‘support bank’ rather than ‘the main location.’ We want to help each branch but we also want them to stand on their own and make decisions.”
Even with all the growth, RCB still managed to end 2006 far in the black. Not only did they manage to beat 2005’s earnings by 10.3 percent, but they actually beat their own overall earnings record. Even though they are a billion dollar bank, Bayless stresses that they do not see themselves that way.
“It’s nice to have a bigger base, but we still like that one-on-one contact, seeing people come through the door and knowing their names,” he states. “We haven’t lost sight of the fact that we are a community bank and that as we grow, the most important thing is to serve our customers and community.”