Hank Breshears

United Bank

City: Springdale
Category: Business Executive of the Year
Year: 2001

As president and CEO since 1995, Hank Breshears has taken United Bank in Springdale back to the basics.

"It's really entailed getting out of some things that weren't profitable and some philosophical changes in how to structure the bank personnel-wise," Breshears said. "We've eliminated some [services] that we weren't big enough to offer effectively or that we hadn't found a way to offer profitably."

The result was two straight years, 1999 and 2000, in which United had the highest return on assets in northwest Arkansas. Whether it will lead the pack for a third straight year remains to be seen, but its ROA was even higher in 2001 (2.35 percent) than in 2000. And its return on equity, which is the number that most excites bank investors, was 21.53 percent.

Breshears, 43, had never been a bank CEO when Don Pitts, owner of United Bank, gave him a shot. But he had a bachelor's degree in math and computer science and an MBA from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and experience as a bank auditor and chief financial officer. And he is a former college baseball player, so banking appeals to his competitive nature.

He intends to keep growing United Bank. Immediate plans include acquiring a location in Fayetteville, but he also is looking for branch sites in west Springdale and Rogers. Having more than the two existing locations in downtown and south Springdale is necessary if Breshears is to achieve his goal for 2002: "We would like to grow from $85 million [in assets] to $110 million this year, which is 30 percent growth roughly."

Last year, Breshears set about converting as much of the bank's securities portfolio as he could to loans. So while assets remained essentially flat, the bank's loan portfolio grew by about 14 percent.

Still, there's more to Breshears than banking. He is an elder of First Presbyterian Church of Springdale, where he teaches a Sunday School class; a member of Springdale Rotary; and a girls' fast-pitch softball coach.

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