Finance has long been a pillar of the Conway community.
With three publicly traded banks in the area and numerous others — as well as credit unions and their branches — businesses and individuals are able to count on being able to find a lending institution that will meet their needs.
In close to six decades of service, First Service Bank has helped back the region’s robust, diverse economy, providing opportunities for lenders to support not only customers, but to finance new construction and help develop new businesses, housing and commercial development.
From opening a simple savings account to securing a loan for a home or business, First Service Bank has a team that supports the city and its citizens.
“Conway has a very diverse, young and educated population, which presents plenty of opportunity for growth in both loans and deposits,” says Jon Patrom, retail sales and marketing director at First Service Bank. “The city has been long known for its commitment to education, which has resulted in an educated, young workforce that has contributed greatly to Conway’s growth, both in terms of population as well as economic growth.”
Training and Technology
First Service Bank has been in operation nearly 60 years and has locations in Conway, Greenbrier, Little Rock, Clinton, Shirley, Yellville, Flippin, Mountain View and Dermott, with its headquarters in Faulkner County. The Greenbrier location has been serving Faulkner County since 1999 and First Service has had locations in Conway since 2012.
Conway’s Financial institutions have focused on strategic growth, investing in technology, training and the community. This has been the First Service approach, says CEO and board chairman Tom Grumbles.
“We believe you have to grow your way to success, not just for our bank’s success, but for the benefit of our associates, customers and communities,” Grumbles says. “We will do this at a manageable, well-planned, but fairly aggressive pace.”
In the top third of Arkansas’ largest banks, First Service has a strategic plan that includes equipping its 10 locations with up-to-date, effective technology to enable staff to do their jobs and serve customers more efficiently.
“We recognize that technology is not a replacement for personal banking relationships, but rather a complement to the personal service we provide,” Grumbles says.
The bank is also continuing to capitalize on training and enhancing the expertise of its executives and commercial lenders, graduating seven staffers from a year-long training program, with more members slated to participate in the intensive, bi-weekly program this year.
Many First Service bankers are longtime residents of Conway. Over the years they have developed deep relationships within the community and surrounding areas.
The bank’s commitment to excellent service is seen in its continued growth. Through partnerships with the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, the Conway Development Corporation and many local nonprofits, First Service has been able to provide the resources that have helped grow Conway and Faulkner County.
First Service bankers have been involved with several local organizations and civic projects, which allows the bank to contribute to the economic growth of Conway on an individual, personal level.
“As First Service Bank continues to grow, it will be a benefit for our customers,” Grumbles says. “Growth allows us to introduce new products and services that will benefit customers in numerous ways. And as we grow financially, it will allow us to lend even more money. The more we can invest in our customers, the better for the economy of our communities. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Grumbles noted that First Service Bank is also committed to supporting Arkansas’ veteran community through its Operation Red, White & Brave program.
In Tough Times
During the COVID-19 pandemic, First Service Bank demonstrated its commitment to Conway, beginning with customer safety. With social distancing and cleanliness precautions at the forefront, First Service had the technological know-how to provide convenient but safe access for its customers.
As a Small Business Administration (SBA) preferred lender, First Service was able to provide an initial, ongoing and overwhelming response to the financial needs of small businesses in the area. And, while other lending institutions may have pulled back on construction lending in recent years, First Service Bank embraced it.
Through financing construction for new development and new businesses, First Service has seen firsthand how new jobs, housing and commercial development impacted the local economy.
Despite the pandemic and thanks to its approach to business and its relationship with the community, First Service Bank enjoyed 24% growth in 2020. That growth, as well as millions raised in new capital, mean more growth for the community the bank serves and supports, Grumbles says.
“First Service Bank is a true community bank with a strong local presence,” he says. “The additional capital will help us in our efforts as we remain deeply committed to investing in the economic viability of all of the communities we serve.”