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Queensborough Bank on the rise
Community Bank builds brand serving private, commercial customers
Queen For web
The Queensborough National Bank and Trust Company, headquartered in Louisville, Ga., has opened 20 branch offices in the last several years including an office in Statesboro. Named one of the top 50 community banks in the United States by the American Bankers Association, Queensborough has positioned itself for continued growth. Pictured above (l-r) are Queensborough’s Bulloch County president, Leonard Herrington, chairman of the board, Frank Easterlin, and president, Bill Easterlin. - photo by JAN MOORE/staff
    From the small town of Louisville, Georgia, a community banking power has emerged. Founded in 1902 in the historic town that once served as Georgia’s capital, the Queensborough National Bank and Trust Company has 20 branch facilities scattered from Augusta to Savannah including an office in Statesboro.
    Recognized as one of the top 50 community banks in the United States by the American Bankers Association, Queensborough has assets exceeding $600 million dollars. The bank is operated by the Easterlin family, descendents of the bank’s founder. Frank Easterlin is the chairman of the board, and his son, Bill Easterlin, is the president.
    Frank Easterlin said Queensborough, which operated for over 100 years as the First National Bank and Trust Company, changed its name in 2006 so it could expand without conflicting with the name of another banking company. Both feel the model of expansion used to grow Queensborough has been the right one, and the key to that model is the bankers that they have hired.
    “We could go into different communities and ‘buy’ the business, but we do not want to do that,” Bill Easterlin said. “We would rather hire an experienced, well known banker in the area who has relationships and a successful track record in banking. We have found out that this is the way to build a solid base of business, which is what we want to do in every market that we enter.”
    “We want our bankers to be able to bank with the people that they are working with instead of sending all of the client’s information to some underwriter that has no familiarity with that individual whatsoever,” he said. “We try as hard as we can to make it simple.”
    When the Statesboro branch of Queensborough opened in 1996 at the corner of Zetterower Avenue and Grady Street, experienced banker, Bruce Avant was tapped to serve as the county president overseeing the Statesboro branch office. In 2003, well-known local banker, Leonard Herrington was named county president when Avant became the preferred SBA lender for the entire bank. Herrington has served in that role since that time.
    Herrington said the Statesboro branch just provided commercial lending services when it originally opened. It wasn’t until 1999, when the bank added drive-thru facilities to its Zetterower office, that a full service branch was born.
    Queensborough is known in the Statesboro area for its commercial lending as well as the number of Small Business Association (SBA) loans that it does. Local accountant, Carlton Wiggins, represents an investment group that has borrowed money from Queensborough in the past.
    “Queensborough has been very helpful to us in our hotel ventures,” Wiggins said. “When hotel revenues dropped over 15 percent after September 11, it was very difficult to find financing to build one.”
    “Considering the mood at the time, they took quite a risk in financing us and it paid off for everybody,” Wiggins said.
    Lisa Glisson, assistant branch manager in Statesboro and a loan officer as well, began working for Queensborough when it opened in 1996.
    “Queensborough is a true community family based bank which without question puts its customers first,” Glisson said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my ten years here. It is just a great place to work.”
       Bill Easterlin said the bank is not going to rest on its laurels and if the situation is right for additional expansion, it is their intent to do so.
“There are three growth market areas in this state,” Easterlin said. “They are the metro Atlanta, north of Atlanta in the mountains, and the coast. For us the logical place to expand would be the coastal area of Georgia. That is where our focus is going to be.”
    When asked about the potential sale of the bank, Bill Easterlin said that circumstances at this time don’t warrant selling it.
    “Banks are sold for a reason,” Easterlin said. “Maybe the management team is ready to move on, or the investors have been promised a certain return by a certain time, or maybe they are unsure about the future. None of those apply to us. There is nothing driving us to sell.”
With the recent opening of a 19,000 square foot processing center in the heart of Louisville, the bank as positioned itself for continued growth.
“We have paid a cash dividend to our owners for the last 102 years,” Frank Easterlin said. “We have paid a dividend every year since we opened in 1902. Our investors are happy. Why change things. I think we will keep going just like we have been.”
    That is good news to Herrington who is very happy with his job. “This is the first family run bank that I have worked for,” Herrington said. “It is just great. They are wonderful people who allow me to do the job they hired me to do.”