J. French Hill

Delta Trust & Banking Corp.

City: Little Rock
Category: Business Executive of the Year
Year: 2001

French Hill was chairman of First Commercial Trust Co. and First Commercial Investments Inc. when First Commercial Corp. was sold to Regions Bank in 1999. Hill took the opportunity to pursue his dream of building a bank that emphasized the products he knew best: trust and investment services.

He didn't start from scratch. In 1999, he and other investors purchased Southeast Arkansas Bank in Parkdale, which had assets of $59 million. While keeping the

charter in place, the bank's name was changed to the less geographically limiting Delta Trust & Bank, and Hill began an assault on the Little Rock market.

At the end of 2001, Delta's assets had grown to $125 million. About 50 percent of its deposits remain in southeast Arkansas, but most of its trademark trust and investment business is in central Arkansas. In February 2000, Delta acquired Moore Mortgage Co., which had offices in Little Rock and Lowell. In September 2001, Hill picked up the deposits and two branch offices when federal regulators shut down Sinclair National Bank in Gravette.

The man behind the growth is the son and grandson of commercial and investment bankers.

"I have always told students and my Delta Trust team members that the difference between successful people and those who don't measure up is attitude," he said. "Successful people are tired and don't want to make the last call of the day, but successful people do it anyway."

Hill is on the boards of a number of civic and cultural organizations, including the George W. Donaghey Foundation, Historic Arkansas Museum, Quapaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Arkansas Arts Center, Catholic High School Foundation and Bioventures Advisory Board at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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