Christopher Wewers Elected CEO of First Federal Bancshares

First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas Inc. of Harrison said Thursday that president and COO Christopher M. Wewers will become CEO of company and its bank, First Federal Bank, effective June 30.

Wewers will succeed W. Dabbs Cavin, who has been the company's and bank's CEO since Bear State Financial Holdings' $46.3 million recapitalization of the bank in May 2011.

Beginning July 1, Cavin will be executive vice chairman of the company and bank boards.

Wewers was named president of the company and the bank in November. He had been executive vice president and COO of the company (Nasdaq: FFBH) and the bank subsidiary since May 2011. He joined the board of directors in early 2012.

From 2001 until he joined the company in 2011, Wewers served was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp of Arkadelphia. Wewers is a certified public accountant licensed to practice in Arkansas.

"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 in a news release. 

"Dabbs originally agreed to lead the bank until it was in a position of strength, and he will now take his new role as executive vice chairman where he can continue to work with Chris and me on the strategic opportunities we see in front of us," Massey said. "At the same time, this will allow him to return to his former role at Mountaire Corporation."

Dabbs moved into the chief executive post at the company after Bear State Financial struck a deal  in 2011 to recapitalize First Federal.

The Arkansas investment group, which assumed majority control of the company, includes Massey, named chairman of the board after the transaction; former Alltel executives Joe and Scott Ford; Witt Stephens Jr., co-chairman and CEO of the Stephens Group LLC; Gus Blass III, general partner with Capital Properties LLC and principal with Falcon Securities Inc.; and Ron Cameron, chairman and CEO of Mountaire Corp., for whom Cavin worked.

The deal included a $46.3 million infusion of cash from Bear State and an $8.7 million stock offering. Repaying the $16.5 million First Federal received from the federal TARP program at a 64 percent discount was a component of cleaning up the balance sheets.