Heber Springs State Bank and Eagle Bank and Trust of Little Rock will combine services early next year to better serve customers throughout central Arkansas and to better position the consolidated bank for continued growth in the future. The consolidation will become official in late February 2012, pending regulatory and stockholder approval.
“This is not a sale, but simply the consolidation of two banks with common ownership,” says Heber Springs State Bank President and CEO Jeff Lynch. “The same ownership group will continue the commitment to excellence it has focused on for more than 25 years here in the Heber Springs area and more than 44 years with Eagle Bank in the Little Rock area. The combined banks will operate under the Heber Springs State Bank charter which dates back to 1919.”
The owners, management, staff, and services will remain the same for the consolidated bank, but Heber Springs area customers will notice one big change: the name of the bank will become Eagle Bank & Trust Company.
“Because the consolidated bank will serve multiple communities in a five-county area of central Arkansas from Heber Springs to Little Rock, we decided a non-geographical name would make the most sense now and in the future,” Lynch says. “Our name will change but our history and our people will stay the same while the services and customer convenience we provide will be enhanced.”
The combined banks will offer 14 locations staffed by more than 80 employees. The combined assets of the new bank will total nearly $340 million.
Jeff Lynch’s father, Bill Lynch, helped turn a struggling Heber Springs State Bank into one of the nation’s highest performing banks as President and CEO from 1991 to 2010. The elder Lynch says the name change will take some getting used to but the consolidation will be good for Heber Springs in several ways.
“We understand the Heber Springs State Bank name has become a treasured part of the community over the past 30 years just as the bank and its original name, Arkansas National Bank, was a integral part of the community for nearly 60 years before that,” Bill Lynch says. “But like the growth of the Heber Springs area, the continued growth of Heber Springs’ hometown bank requires change as well. The consolidation will allow the bank to be more competitive now and in the future. For instance, this means more branches and ATMs for our customers. That’s an added convenience whether you’re from Heber Springs heading to Little Rock or in Little Rock headed to the lake. It also allows the bank to not only retain 50 high quality jobs in Heber Springs but should create new job opportunities in the future.”
Most importantly, Lynch says, it will allow the bank to continue making local decisions.
“When you walk into our bank, you know you’re going to be talking to a decision maker, not someone who’s going to pick up the phone and seek permission from somebody else,” Bill Lynch says. “Our loan decision makers aren’t located in some centralized office in another area or state and that makes things easier for our customers. That will remain the same after the banks combine forces.”
Jeff Lynch will assume the President and CEO duties of the consolidated bank.
“We’re so fortunate to have the Lynch family leading the bank during this period of growth,” says Cathy Owen, President of State Holding Company, representing the ownership of both Heber Springs State Bank and Eagle Bank. “Jeff Lynch’s experience and direction will continue our commitment to excellence while Bill Lynch’s leadership and active role in the community and bank continues to be invaluable to us.”
Over the years, the ownership group treated the banks as separate entities and both kept their original charters, but over time it became clear that combining the banks will provide many benefits, especially with increased regulatory and operational changes that benefit larger banks.
“With this change in mind, we’ve worked for several years to align contracts and core-processing systems at both banks,” says Owen.
No jobs will be lost as a result of the consolidation, but some positions may change as the banks combine operations and other bank functions.
Heber Springs State Bank currently serves four counties with locations in Heber Springs, Drasco, Greer’s Ferry, Fairfield Bay, Quitman, Rose Bud, and Vilonia while Eagle Bank primarily serves Pulaski County with locations in Little Rock, Maumelle, Sherwood, and Gravel Ridge.
The State Holding Company bought the controlling interest and recapitalized Heber Springs State Bank in 1984. Since that time, the bank has focused on growing beyond Heber Springs to provide service to communities around Greer’s Ferry Lake and beyond. In the last 25 years, the bank has grown from two locations and $25 million in assets to eight locations and $200 million in assets.
No one knows the history of the bank better than Jeff and Bill Lynch and they’re committed to continuing that history of success and role in helping to develop the community for years to come.
“We hope everyone understands that Heber Springs isn’t losing its hometown bank, its hometown bank is simply growing,” says Jeff Lynch. “It’s our second name change in more than 90 years and hopefully it’s our last. This move makes us stronger and puts us in the best position to grow and serve the people of Heber Springs and surrounding areas for the next 90 years.”