Kevin Sabin Keeps Eye on Arvest's Expansion as Arkansas' Largest Bank

Arkansas Business 20th Annual 40 Under Forty
The original Class of 1996 profiles
2013 Updates from this week's digital edition of Arkansas Business.

Kevin Sabin was a 35-year-old Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 honoree in 1996, when he was director of marketing for First Commercial Bank.

Sabin’s big achievement at the time was streamlining First Commercial’s corporate logo and signage. Now in his 16th year as president and CEO of Arvest Bank, Sabin is doing some slightly heavier lifting these days.

With assets exceeding $11 billion, Arvest is the largest bank in Arkansas, a far cry from its origins as the Bank of Bentonville, which had $3.5 million in deposits when it was purchased in 1961.

“I joined Arvest in 1998 and as we have grown, our structure has necessarily changed through the years to accommodate that growth,” Sabin, 52, said.

Arvest now has more than 240 locations that are part of 16 locally managed banks in more than 240 locations in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Last year the J.D. Power & Associates Retail Banking Study gave Arvest the highest ranking in the South-central and Southwest Regions. It was the fourth straight year the bank has won a regional award.

Never one to seek the spotlight, Sabin credits Arvest’s employees for the bank’s growth and success.

“While nearly everything about our industry has changed through the years, our success is still built on a culture that encourages communication and relationships, both among our associates as well as with customers,” Sabin said.

Not that any of the bank’s success has come easily, especially with the economic downturn of the past few years and the recession of 2009.

“Over the last few years and most likely for the foreseeable future, a sluggish economy and a very uncertain regulatory environment are two of the biggest challenges bankers face,” Sabin said.

When not confronting those challenges, Sabin occupies himself close to home.

“I try to invest my free time in activities that involve my family and friends,” he said, “most notably school fundraising and volunteer opportunities.”