First Farmers names risk, planning executives

$1B bank also shuffles GC, trust officer roles

One of the larger banking players on the southern edge of the Nashville MSA has tapped a number of executives and bankers for new roles aimed at balancing growth and risk.

First Farmers & Merchants Bank, which is based in Columbia and has more than $1 billion in assets, said Chief Administrative Officer John Tomlinson now has the added title of chief risk officer. Tomlinson, pictured at left, has been with First Farmers since 1973 and will oversee the internal auditing, insurance, fraud, corporate investigations and information security functions at the bank.

Relatedly, the bank has promoted Brian Williams, its top commercial banker, to executive vice president and director of corporate planning. A 20-year veteran of First Farmers, Williams (far left in bottom photo) will spend more time developing short- and long-term strategies and allocating the necessary resources to pursue them. He will stay on in his commercial banking role.

On the legal side of things, General Counsel Houston Parks (second from left) will again become a senior trust officer and oversee the bank’s trust and financial management services team. Parks, a former private practice attorney, joined First Farmers in 1997 as senior trust officer before being named COO in 2005 and GC in 2009.

Taking Parks’ place as GC is Barry White, who had been corporate legal counsel and a senior trust officer. White (third from left in bottom photo), a former assistant district attorney general in southern Middle Tennessee, joined First Farmers in 2003 as Marshall County President.

Lastly, moving to First Farmers’ commercial banking group is Senior Trust Officer Stephen Hughes, who has been with First Farmers since 2000. Hughes, (far right in bottom photo) had spent the last 11 years in the bank’s trust and financial management group.

"We're fortunate that we have deep experience among our executives to be able to move them into positions where their knowledge can make a significant impact on our growth," said Randy Stevens, chairman and CEO of First Farmers. "These changes will also help First Farmers continue to better manage risk for both the bank and our customers."

First Farmers runs 21 offices in seven counties around the region, including two in Franklin, three in Spring Hill and two in Dickson. The bank last year posted a profit of $7.7 million, up from $7.1 million in 2011.