George Gleason: How The S&L Crisis Prepared Bank of the Ozarks For Today's Growth

by George Waldon  on Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012 7:29 am  

George Gleason, CEO of Bank of the Ozarks Inc. of Little Rock

Gleason said opportunities to bid on loan pools during the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s helped his organization be better prepared for today's FDIC-assisted deals.

"That was great experience for us, going in and buying pools of distressed assets with FDIC-assisted acquisitions," he said. "We bought A-grade pools for C-grade prices."

The company's status as an expansive-minded, high-performance bank inspired one financial sector blogger to crown Bank of the Ozarks the "King of the Regional Banks."

"The bank's challenge in 2011 will be to demonstrate its ability to efficiently manage its greatly expanded operations," an ABA Banking Journal article last year opined.

Raising the Bar
Gleason embraces the ongoing challenge of maintaining, refining, building and expanding the earnings machine known as Bank of the Ozarks.

"The bars are going to move higher tomorrow," he said of his expectations. "That has really served us well."

Gleason recently marked his 33rd year leading the company. His enthusiasm doesn't appear to have diminished since he took the plunge as a strong-minded 25-year-old back in 1979.

Gleason was rewarded for the company's strong performance in 2011 with a 20 percent increase in total compensation, which topped $2.6 million. His 13 percent stake in Bank of the Ozarks is worth about $137 million.

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