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Local Bank Continues Decades of Success

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(Back row) Executive Vice President Robert Gaddis, President and CEO Les Mendicello, Senior Vice President/Cashier Tammy Gibbons, Senior Vice President Dave Gruppi
(Front row) Senior Vice President Glenda Burt, Senior Vice President Sharon Copeland (Courtesy photo)

In 1975, seven local business men decided the Spring Hill area near Longview, Texas was a ripe location for a bank. They applied for a bank charter but the Texas Banking Commission did not share their enthusiasm. The application was not approved. The organizers Gene Clark, Chapple Dowell, Theo Ellison, Paul French, Billy Don Thomas, Jim Heath and Jerry Williams were persistent. Engaging a highly regarded attorney and former state senator, Jack Strong, the application was made again. This time the application was approved and the Bank opened its doors on September 19, 1977.

Les Mendicello is currently the Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer and has been its CEO since joining the Bank in 1979. “We have seen many challenges in banking during this period,” said Mendicello. Probably the most difficult years were the mid to late 1980’s when the Texas energy and real estate markets were severely distressed. He said that during that period most of the banks serving the Longview market either failed or survived only through merger

or acquisition often government assisted. Another difficult time was the recession following the real estate bust of 2008. No doubt this recession was more national in scope than the recession of the mid 1980’s. The result of this bust, which was in large part caused by a relatively few lenders, was a host of new regulations that make it especially hard on community banks.

Despite these many challenges to community banks the Spring Hill State Bank has continued to flourish. According to reports provided by the FDIC, the Bank has increased its deposits nearly 100% in the last ten years. The total assets of the bank now total nearly $185,000,000. Mendicello credits the Bank’s success to its local and stable ownership, an experienced and loyal staff, and an East Texas economy that has grown more diverse over the past 25 years. Mendicello said, “The Banks experienced management team gives us a critical advantage.”

He believes community banks will continue to have a prominent place in the banking arena for several reasons. Studies have shown that “Community Banks” provide a significant if not the majority of financing to small business. “Apparently, we can serve this important sector better than anybody else.” Also, he believes that bank customers continue to appreciate person to person banking. Having said that he quickly adds; however, community banks must continue to utilize state of the art technology in order to be competitive and provide high technology services to those customers that desire it.

Mendicello said he is proud of the recently completed expansion and remodeling of the Bank’s home location at 3700 Gilmer Road in Longview. The 8,000 square foot expansion now gives the Bank a total of 20,000 square feet at its main office. The Bank’s branch location at 202 Hollybrook has been a major contributor to our success. He said the Bank owns several acres at that location that can be used for future expansion.

When asked about the future of his independent bank, Mendicello is optimistic. He said “The economic health of the East Texas area is bright. The area is rich in natural resources, abundance of water, and is a center for education and medical services. The economy continues to grow in diversity and has a strong industrial sector. Community bankers are part of the community. They have an established track record of investing in the community in so many ways including loans to local businesses and for personal use. Our officers and employees spend hundreds of hours every year serving on non-profit organizations that help to make Longview a better place. And very importantly, we place a high priority on offering quality banking services in a friendly and personal way. I think the banking public will continue to value these qualities…Yes, I am confident about the future of our bank!”