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25 years and counting for WB&T

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Clemons said that time was crucial for the upstart financial institution that sold $5 million in stock in just 90 days. The first share was sold on Feb. 1, 1987 and the doors were open for business on May 11, which Clemons said must have been a record.


We opened faster than any other bank, he said. The response from investors and members of the community was so strong Clemons pointed out the bank avoided a lot of organizational costs that accompany starting a bank.


The new bank was profitable in its first month, which Clemons also said was to the credit of the community that turned to the fledgling company for financial advice, services and products.


After several months, the two-bedroom home was far too small to meet the needs to the banks growing customer base. Clemons said they began building what is now the main branch on West Main Street in Lebanon.


The home was out where the parking lot is now, Clemons said, referring to the first branch. On Dec. 31, 1987 the main branch opened on what Clemons recalled was a snowy afternoon.


Pictures of the bank following the ribbon cutting in Clemons scrapbook show the roof and grass buried beneath snow. However, photos taken the following day show a long line of customers standing on the sidewalk, stretching out to the street, waiting to carry out their business.


People were waiting out to the street to get into the bank, Clemons said.{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=32|imageid=176|displayname=0|float=right}


In the many years since that day, the bank has reached into six other counties, opening 13 branches outside of Wilson. Clemons said the bank has striven hard to maintain its independent status, while growing enough to compete with the larger institutions.


Despite the companys growth, Clemons believes the cornerstone of their business is the way they treat its many customers.


Were most proud of the fact that were still the local bank that believes in personal service and treating our customers the way we want to be treated, he said.


The banks first Oktoberfest event was held in 1987 as a much smaller gathering with live music and some antique cars. While the music and cars remain a draw of the annual event, the festival has grown dramatically.


Clemons said the bank is a part of the community and they must work to improve the communities where they are located. In 25 years, he said, through donating to charities, helping local schools, sponsoring fundraiser events and holding community gatherings, theyve worked hard to show how much the bank values the people they serve.


A bank has to be the leader in a community, our officers and staff have to be active in the community, and youre building relationships through that. People will have financial needs and they will remember you, Clemons said.


When the bank sought to move outside of Lebanon, and then Wilson County, Clemons noted they have taken a different approach to opening banks in other communities.


Whereas many larger institutions purchase existing local banks or buy out smaller companies, he said theyve started from scratch with the DeKalb Community Bank, Community Bank of Smith County and Trousdale Bank & Trust.


Its a little more difficult because you have to start and grow everything yourself, but its also better in other ways, Clemons said.


Clemons also noted the bank was the first in Wilson County to offer permanent mortgage loans, assisting business owners and homeowners in calling Wilson County home, helping to advance growth and development.


While the bank remains independent and locally owned, he said they offer every financial service and product available at any other national bank.


As for the future, the bank is opening a new operations center on Legends Drive on Thursday, May 10, that Clemons said will help the bank expand and grow as needed. They are also opening a new branch in Hendersonville this fall, their second bank in Sumner County.


Our number one plan for the future is to remain independent, Clemons said. Wilson Bank & Trust has a strong management that can help take our bank into the future.


For more information about the banks anniversary, visit www.wilsonbank.com and click on the link Anniversary Week Activities.


Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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