Family Owned Banks Tout History, Growth

According to Tulsa-area banks Citizens Security Bank & Trust Co., SpiritBank and American Heritage Bank, family owned banks offer services they don’t believe large, conglomerate banks could deliver with their same touch.

Though the owners of these family owned banks are proud of their rich histories, whether or not the bottom line benefits from being family owned is still open for debate.

Banking Today

Citizens Security Bank & Trust Company, SpiritBank and American Heritage Bank have a total of 38 branches in northeast Oklahoma and nearly $2 billion in assets.

Purchased in full by 2004, Citizens Security Bank touts 20,000 customers and $417 million in assets. The headquarters branch of Citizens Security Bank is located at 14821 S. Memorial Drive in Bixby.

“Our tagline is ‘Solutions for Life,’” said W. Carlisle Mabrey III, President and CEO of the Bixby-based bank. “Helping people with their problems is what we’re all about.”

Albert C. “Kell” Kelly Jr., CEO of SpiritBank, said his 65-percent-family-owned bank holds assets of nearly $1 billion. SpiritBank has 18 locations in 13 cities in northeast Oklahoma. Headquarters for the bank in Tulsa is at 1800 S. Baltimore St. in Spirit Tower.

“We’ve brought our way of doing business into the market of today,” Kelly said.

William L. Berry, chairman and CEO of American Heritage Bank, said since branching out in 1983 the bank, managed by William and his brother Guy Berry III, has grown to $515 million in assets. The main branch of American Heritage Bank, which targets the west Tulsa market, is located at 2 N. Main St. in Sapulpa.

“We understand our customers because we as owners of our business know what they’re going through as owners of their business,” said Berry.

As leaders of family-owned banks, the Mabreys, Kellys, and Berrys find that community involvement helps to create a healthy bottom line.

“We want all of our bankers – and all the bankers across the state – to believe they can make a difference in their communities,” Kelly of SpiritBank said.

William Berry of American Heritage agreed.

“We have always encouraged people to be involved in all sorts of community services beyond their service at the bank,” Berry said. “If the community is doing well, typically your bank is going to do well, too.”

History and Heritage

The families that own Citizens Security Bank, SpiritBank and American Heritage Bank have been in Oklahoma for nearly 300 years combined. With that kind of experience, these families say they know a thing or two about the local banking business.

Mabrey of Citizens Security Bank comes from a long line of Okmulgee bankers. He is one of seven Mabreys on the Board at Citizens Security Bank. The Mabreys have been members of the Okmulgee banking community since the early 1900s.

Kelly of SpiritBank hails from Bristow. Kelly’s grandfather came to Oklahoma in 1902 in a covered wagon. He was named chairman of the board of the American National Bank of Bristow by 1946. In the early 1950s, Kelly’s father and a few of his uncles purchased a controlling interest in what is now SpiritBank. Kelly has worked for the bank for 22 years.

William Berry and his brother Guy share a rich Sapulpa heritage. In 1915, Guy Berry I came to Sapulpa and worked with his brother as a bookkeeper for American National Bank, which succeeded the International Bank of Sapulpa. Berry became president of the bank in 1939. The Berry brothers have managed American Heritage Bank since the early 1980s.

Family Owned

Banks on Every Corner?

Each of the family owned banks currently invests in growth strategies.

American Heritage soon starts construction on a new full-service, 5,000-SF branch at 71st and Union in west Tulsa.

SpiritBank recently opened its newest facility in Perkins, Okla. The branch is a 1,000-SF grocery store service center.

SpiritBank’s Business Resource Center, located across the street from Spirit Tower at 1811 S. Baltimore St., was completed around the first of the year.

Citizens Security Bank plans to add 18,000 SF to its 23,000-SF main branch in Bixby.

The bank experienced a 106.4 percent increase in net income during the period between the end of 2004 to the end of 2005.

These family owned banks agree that electronic banking is here to stay.

“When the technology gets secure, people are going to be banking on their phones,” Kelly said. “We had better be prepared to provide that service in order to stay competitive.”

This expansion of family owned banks in Tulsa begs the vision of street corners hopping with banks striving for that

small-town feel. How do these banks plan to remain places where everybody knows your name?

“We’re not going to be a consumer bank in every grocery store or on every corner,” said Kelly of SpiritBank.

Mabrey and Citizens Security Bank wants to provide cradle-to-grave service, assisting a college student with education financing and later providing that customer options for investments and retirement, Mabrey said.

The Berrys desire long-term, close relationships with customers.

“We want to stay involved and continue to rub shoulders with members of the community,” William Berry said.

Family Owned Advantage

With the continued expansion of Tulsa’s family-owned banks, it seems there must be inherent benefits to being a family owned bank. Indeed, there are bottom-line benefits to being family owned, the banks said. How important being family owned ultimately is to business, though, is different for each bank.

“Being a community bank would play a bigger part than just being a family owned bank,” said William Berry of American Heritage.

Mabrey of Citizens Security concurred.

“It’s really just like any other business,” Mabrey said.

Kelly of SpiritBank would beg to differ.

“You have a much greater opportunity today in business if you have a family ownership,” Kelly said. “The energy you can have with the people who are related to you makes for a very strong fabric that is otherwise not gotten by bringing in a hired team.” ?

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