May 2017: It’s hard to believe that a successful bank with 41 locations in two states, and over $2.5 billion in assets came from such humble beginnings.
After the stock market crash in 1929, the Great Depression rocked the nation. Unprecedented drought ravaged the state of Oklahoma and oil prices fell. People were struggling to find work. By the mid-1930’s, only one bank existed in Claremore, Oklahoma, the First National Bank.
“It was a terrible time,” said Frank Robson, RCB Board Member and son of Rogers County Bank founder L.S. Robson. “By 1934, my dad had encumbered himself with a lot of debt from ranch and oil investments.”
L.S. Robson sought a loan with $15,000 in securities, but was only offered a loan of $500. He picked up his securities, thanked the banker and left. But then it hit him, if Claremore and the community was ever going to grow, credit had to be available to people.
“And that’s when he decided to start a bank,” Frank Robson said.
L.S. Robson spent the next year accumulating $25,000 startup money from investors, including drugstore owner, S.C. Vincent, County Treasurer Anne Settle, Livestock man Ben Lowry and banker Guy Bayless, and oilman J. B. Milam. The money was used for a charter bank called Rogers County Bank. It was the only bank in Oklahoma to receive a charter in 1936. On July 4, 1936, Rogers County Bank opened with a promise to “furnish banking facilities – friendly service and progressive in spirit.”
“Our success is our service,” said Frank Robson. “Let me tell you why I think this bank has grown. In 1936, Mr. Thomas Jefferson Dunlap walked in to Rogers County Bank to ask for a loan. He couldn’t get the money any place else.”
According to Robson, Dunlap had 20 work horses and 100 head of cattle as collateral, which was not worth hardly anything.
“The horses you couldn’t give away and the cattle were worth $1 a head, but the Bank gave him a load anyway,” Robson explained. “They said he had good character and was honest, and they knew he would pay it back if he could. Dunlap had 11 children, and now we have the fourth and fifth generations of his family as our customers. That’s what made RCB Bank what is today – our relationships with our customers.”
RCB Bank’s relationship building didn’t stop with Claremore. Expansions into the surrounding communities like Pryor, Catoosa, Inola and Owasso gave way to more expansion to Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Skiatook and Collinsville. In the mid-2000’s the expansion began again to communities including Oklahoma City, Edmond and Ponca City. In recent years, even more communities have joined the RCB Bank family located in Cushing, Stillwater, Blackwell, Bartlesville, Stroud, Shidler, Yukon and Norman; and, even more expansion into the state of Kansas including locations in Wichita, Lawrence, Arkansas City, Douglas, Oxford, Winfield, and Wellington.
Who knows what the growth will be for RCB Bank in the next 80 years, but one thing is for certain, the priority will always be to the community and relationships with their customers.
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