Banking & Finance

Grow for it: First Bank Regional President shares details of acquisition of small bank in Dunn and reflects on the Harnett County market as a whole

By Stephanie Meador, posted 5 months ago
First Bank acquired Select Bank in Dunn, NC in 2022 - PHOTO PROVIDED BY FIRST BANK

As Harnett County continues to grow, First Bank is eager to serve residents old and new who’ve come to call the small county home. 

First Bank has an office in Angier, Lillington and Dunn and have expanded their reach through acquisitions including acquiring Select Bank out of Dunn in 2022. Additionally, the Select Bank and the First Bank in Lillington merged to become one. 

Rob Patterson, regional president of First Bank, shared what goes into making the decision to acquire another bank.

“When we’re looking at a potential partner, obviously there’s financial considerations we look at. We’re also looking at what markets appeal to us, and then we’re also looking at a culture piece of the puzzle. First Bank, we believe very strongly in our culture, so when we’re discussing partnerships, we really want that culture to fit and Select was an opportunity that kind of hit on all three and it put us in some markets and strengthened some markets that we really cared about in North Carolina,” said Patterson. “Fayetteville was one and Dunn in Harnett County was one as well, they [Select] had a presence also in Lillington, as did we, so we consolidated those two branches. And then we were able to expand our presence to Dunn through that merger.”

Patterson shared that he actually started his career in Dunn so he’s very familiar with the market and he’s happy to be doing business in the town once again.

“... Markets like Dunn, Lillington, Fayetteville they’re kind of our kinds of places. They’re strong communities or communities that believe in a local bank. They’re communities with a lot of business opportunities. Harnett County’s got a lot of growth right now. Fayetteville has just had a really consistent growth record for a long period of time,” remarked Patterson.

First Bank worked with the Select Bank team to make the acquisition as smooth as possible. Patterson spoke about how it is important to utilize the team that is there because they have an established relationship with the customers and understand the community.

“From a stock purchase standpoint, we purchased Select Bank, but from a grounds standpoint, we’re partners, and we became one, but we always consider all of that a partnership because we are gaining market share with other banks as we are growing our company. I think that’s one thing that distinguishes us a little bit from other banks that are in the acquiring mode. We really look at it as we’re joining forces and together we’re better than we were separately,” stated Patterson.

Patterson went on to explain that in the time between the announcement of the transaction and the actual conversion of Select Bank to First Bank, the teams from both companies were getting to know one another and building trust to facilitate positive relationships and prepare for a smooth transition.

First Bank acquiring Select Bank proved to be of benefit to community members due to the bank’s size and services available. 

“One of the advantages we bring to the table, just because we’re a larger size, we can do larger transactions, particularly on the loan side, and we have a fuller array of products and services — like we have our own credit card product, which Select did not have. Our treasury management services were a little more enhanced, so we’re able to provide to our customers a little bit of a stronger suite of services, just because we’re larger and that provides some value to us. It’s opened the door for I think our Select lenders to be able to grow customers from a loan perspective, maybe greater than they could have before just because we’re a larger bank,” shared Patterson.

Despite being a large bank, Patterson stated that the company’s communication skills and commitment to customer service were on par with those more commonly associated with a small bank. 

“...We’re a small bank when it comes to delivering service, and we’re a flat organization when it comes to creating decisions. I think we can get from the teller to the President’s bank very quickly. It is very easy for me to get our chief banking officer on the phone,” stated Patterson.

Patterson shared that the growing real estate market and the large number of small business owners in Harnett County are providing fuel for the local economy. According to Patterson, deposits have grown in the entire Harnett County region in the last three to five years and continue to grow.

Further down the line, it is possible that additional mergers and acquisitions may be in First Bank’s future if that is what is necessary to meet the needs of a community. 

“I think we’re always a company that is looking for opportunities to grow. My president Mike Mayer likes to say we will grow where the communities need us to grow…we want to be nimble. We want to go where the communities will support us. And that has been an incredibly useful strategy for us. So I’d say that we’re always looking at opportunities and what may come about as we look to our future,” concluded Patterson. 

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