George Makris to Succeed Tommy May as Simmons CEO in 2014

by Lance Turner  on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012 3:53 pm  

George Makris

Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff said Tuesday that company director George A. Makris Jr. will succeed J. Thomas May as chairman and CEO of the bank company after May retires on Dec. 31, 2013.

The company said Makris "will serve in a transition capacity in the newly created position of CEO-elect" effective Jan. 1.

The company also said David Bartlett, corporate president and COO, has been named to the new position of president and chief banking officer, also effective Jan. 1.

In January 2010, May told Arkansas Business that he hoped to work four more years and retire when he reached 67. He has stuck to that schedule.

"While it will be extremely difficult for me to say good-bye when I retire in December 2013, it will also be exciting to watch this new team, which has been a part of leading this company through one of the greatest recessions in history, take Simmons First to a new level in size, geographic footprint and creating shareholder value," May said in a news release.

"It is a really strong team, and the process exemplifies a 'best practice' when it comes to corporate governance and succession planning."

Makris, who has been on the Simmons board for 15 years, is president of M.K. Distributors Inc., a Pine Bluff beverage distributor. He is also a director of the National Beer Wholesalers Association and was a member of the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Advisory Panel.

Makris is also chairman of the Economic Development Corporation of Jefferson County and vice-chairman of the Jefferson Hospital Association Board of Directors. He serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine.

Matt Olney, banking analyst for Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, said the naming of a successor was something that the Simmons management "has been working on for the past few years, and this is something I know they don't take lightly."

To name a board member as CEO, rather than promoting one of the longtime executives, was not particularly surprising to Olney.

"I've seen it all before with other banks …" he said. "I'd say anybody on the board or senior executive level were all possibilities. I didn't have any great guesses as to who it would be."

Also under the succession plan:



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