Christopher Wewers


Christopher Wewers

Chris Wewers says his parents "gave me a good raising." That meant if he wanted to go to college he'd have to work to pay for it. He did, graduating summa cum laude with an accounting degree from Henderson State University at Arkadelphia in 1992 — in three and a half years.

He worked at Merchants & Planters Bank & Trust in Arkadelphia while pursuing a master's in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he was the outstanding graduate. After finishing his schoolwork, he went to work for Horizon Bank, which had acquired Merchants & Planters and which was later sold. In 1998 he went to work for John Ed Chambers' Community Bank of Danville, leaving to return to Arkadelphia in 2001, where he joined Ross Whipple's Summitt Bank.

Besides his parents, Wewers says, "Ross Whipple and John Ed Chambers raised me." Steve DeMott, his early boss at Merchants & Planters, was a second father in a lot of ways.

Wewers' financial management and understanding of the banking business contributed to Summit's growth. By 2006, he executive vice president and chief financial officer. That year, he was named among Arkansas Business' 40 Under 40 class.

In 2011, Wewers joined publicly traded First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas Inc., the holding company for First Federal Bank. First Federal Bancshares had been recapitalized by Bear State Financial Holdings LLC, representing a group of Arkansas businessmen that included former Alltel Corp. CEO Scott Ford.

Wewers became executive vice president and chief operating officer. In 2012, he was appointed to First Federal's board of directors and later became company and bank president. In March 2013, First Federal announced that Wewers would become CEO of company and its bank, effective June 30. Wewers succeeded W. Dabbs Cavin, who had been the company's and bank's CEO since May 2011.

"Dabbs and Chris have done a tremendous job in improving all aspects of the bank, including hiring outstanding executives throughout the company, so this is a good time for us to make this transition," First Federal Bancshares Chairman Rick Massey said when announcing the changes.

On Wewer's first day as CEO, First Federal announced a $124 million deal to acquire First National Security Co., the holding company for First National Bank of Hot Springs and Heritage Bank in Jonesboro.