FirstBank plans to grow its Middle Tennessee retail network by a third in the next two years by opening branches in Davidson, Williamson and Sumner counties.
FirstBank, which on Monday named Chris Holmes its new president, wants to build its presence in the core of the Nashville area as well as in its fast-growing northern suburbs. Plans call for the addition of two offices both this year and next, moves that would complement FirstBank’s offices in many of the region’s outlying communities.
“There is a lot of pent-up demand out there,” Holmes told NashvillePost.com Monday. “A lot of factors have come together to help us seize this opportunity.”
With entrepreneur and philanthropist Jim Ayers at the helm, FirstBank quietly kept its nose relatively clean during the Great Recession before investing in growth last year. Last year, it acquired a regional mortgage operation — helping grow its home lending unit to about 100 people — and recruited local banking veteran Gordon Inman to lead its business development in Williamson County. On the heels of that came the hiring of several experienced Regions Bank lenders led by new Middle Tennessee President Allen Oakley as well as the addition of several securities pros.
Holmes said FirstBank’s Nashville-area business is pretty evenly balanced between larger commercial clients and its consumer/small business/securities books of business. His team’s retail push will help lift that ratio toward 40/60 over time, he said.
On the business side, Oakley said he’s been wowed by the response to his group’s move and added that FirstBank can compete for the business of just about every company in the region. Another factor playing in the bank's favor post-recession is that many clients are more willing than before to at least have a conversation about moving their businesses.
“We’re taking a great bank and making it better,” Oakley said. “This is not a turnaround.”
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