Farmers Bank & Trust has had a presence in Saline County for more than 18 years, but it wasn’t until last year that the company made a real push in the Benton and Bryant market.
A loan production office in Bryant located at 3316 AR-5 suite 2 celebrated its first year of business in April, and it joins the full-service branch in nearby Haskell in serving customers.
“We are very pleased with our reception from the community and the loan growth we have had,” said Market President Scott White. “We are also pleased with how our employees have been able to be involved in the community through the Benton Chamber of Commerce and through the Boys and Girls Club of Saline County.”
Farmers Bank & Trust, whose corporate office is in Magnolia, has been owned by the same family for 113 years. The bank’s branches are spread throughout southwest Arkansas and northeast Texas including Hope, Camden, Texarkana, and Prosper, TX.
In 2007, Farmers acquired Southern State Bank in Malvern, which joined Haskell as northernmost markets in the company’s footprint. White, a Malvern native and Benton resident, splits his time between Malvern and Saline County.
“We’ve been in Saline County a long time, but we felt it was the right time to move into the Benton/Bryant area and participate in some of the growth that is taking place there,” White said. “Saline County is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state of Arkansas. There is a lot of good income located here and great school systems between Benton, Bryant, Harmony Grove and Bauxite. It’s just a great place to live and raise your family, and we feel like it’s a great place to do business.”
The new office is in the same building as Fulks Family Dentistry, across Highway 5 from Dr. Justin Franks Eye Care of Saline County. Three loan officers have spent the year meeting new customers and making an impact in the communities where they live.
Kent McClure is “a new banker” but brings a wealth of real estate experience, as he owned his own realty inspection company. He and his wife Marietta also own McClure Fitness in Benton. “He’s very familiar with the Benton area and all of the things going on there,” White said. “He has an extensive real estate background, and we are really pleased with him.”
Josh Caldwell is a banking veteran of 15 years in Saline County and “brings great sales and customer service skills to us.”
Eric Shelnut is the group’s secondary market mortgage lender and “is really, really good with customers and does a great job with them.”
While the office has seen good loan growth the past year, the company has also made a conscious effort to give back to the communities in which its staff, including White, live. Farmers sponsored all of the youth basketball teams that played in the Boys and Girls Club of Saline County in Benton last winter.
“Approximately 700 kids that played basketball [in Benton] had a uniform on that said ‘Farmers Bank & Trust,’” White said. “That was a way for us to give back to the community and get the word out about who we are and what we do.”
The company is also sponsoring three of the five 2019 Benton Chamber of Commerce First Thursday lunches. The first was the annual awards lunch in January. On Aug. 27, it will sponsor the Salt Bowl luncheon, with the final event on Nov. 7. The bank will also be involved in sponsorship with the Bryant, Benton and Bauxite football programs.
It’s been an eventful year at the new office, and White and Co. look forward to more success serving customers in Benton and Bryant.