If you drive down Camp Bowie Boulevard often enough, you likely have noticed the bank building at 4255. When you do notice the name, don’t be surprised if the name isn’t immediately recognized. You likely aren’t alone.
“We are the biggest bank in North Texas that nobody has ever heard of,” said J. Terry Smith, DFW Regional President for InterBank.
Smith, a longtime area banker, officially joined the bank in August. He obviously wants that perception to change, as does C.K. Lee, InterBank’s president and chief operating officer, who came on board mid-pandemic, in July 2020.
Lee was brought on board to oversee operations and become part of the executive management team. Planning, as well as mergers and acquisitions, are a part of Lee’s responsibilities. Lee knows about M&A, having worked on several bank and thrift M&A deals in Texas as part of Piper Sandler & Co., a leading investment bank and institutional securities firm offering M&A advisory services.
And, after InterBank, over the past 10 years, acquired a number of banks from Dallas to Grapevine to Waxahachie and Glen Rose, Lee will also be leading an integration effort, adding key employees such as Smith, and focusing on Fort Worth and Dallas as the bank grows. Lee doesn’t rule out another acquisition or adding a branch here and there, but that’s not a key focus going forward.
“It’s really been in the last couple of years that our bank has begun to think about long-term management succession planning, and then our long-term strategic plan for where we wanted to grow the bank,” said Lee.
He notes the demographics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are great as are the growth prospects.
“The economic opportunities are very good for a bank like ours. We felt like when we looked at the landscape here, that we’ve seen a tremendous number of banks, historically independent banks in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that have sold.”
As a result, a lot of bankers and customers end up in organizations that are not local. That’s an advantage for a bank like InterBank, said Lee.
“A bank like ours, that is three and a half to four billion dollars in assets, and it’s got some creativity, and drive and ambition with a nice balance sheet, we could fill a role here in the Metroplex that wasn’t being filled by anybody else,” he said. “So obviously hiring Terry and the crew that we onboarded over the last six months has been an important part of that effort.
“But I think also it’s energized our legacy crew that this is the market we want to grow in, and we’re excited about being here, and we want to be a force for good here.”
It also led the bank to thinking more broadly about its branch footprint in the DFW area and how it could begin to look at the North Texas area as a whole.
That led to the bank hiring Pamela Zeigler-Petty as Senior Vice President, Community Development Banking. In her role, Zeigler-Petty will be responsible for expanding community development lending relationships, enhancing the bank’s community outreach, and ensuring InterBank is positioned to meet the needs of all the communities it serves.
“I’ve been in the banking industry over 23 years, and in Texas for about 18 years,” said Zeigler-Petty.
Working primarily as a community development banker or commercial lender since relocating to the Lone Star state, she said part of the excitement of joining InterBank is being “the new kids on the block.”
“I am so excited about the opportunities, and I’m literally looking forward to expanding lending platforms into all of the communities that we serve, using some of the connections that I have, and the background that I have. Not only in lending, but I look forward to connecting community relationships, to extend hopefully more innovative products, and services, and solutions to not only community organizations but also to our small businesses,” Zeigler-Petty said.
Because of InterBank’s widely diverse footprint – from major metropolitan areas to smaller communities – Lee says their banks are of key importance to the community.
“In a lot of the communities in West Texas, Western Oklahoma, we’re either the only bank in town or we’re one of two banks in town. We have to wake up every day and live and breathe every single loan that that community needs. Everything from a car loan to somebody needing to buy a new skid-steer for their farm, or buy a farm, buy stock or cattle. Anything that walks in the door, we have to figure out how to address or else we’re out of business in those towns,” he said.
“We have to be good citizens of the community. I think the challenge for Pamela and by extension me and the other executives in our bank is to really take that ethic, which is where our roots are, and extend that here to DFW. Our bread and butter is presenting a better customer proposition. We need to be creative and make sure we’re treating everybody that walks in the door the way they deserve to be treated and extend economic opportunity where we can,” Lee says.
Lee said InterBank is fundamentally a commercial bank, but, particularly in its rural footprint, also has plenty of consumer loans and deposits.
“In the Metroplex, based on just the banks that we’ve bought, and obviously the team that we’ve brought on, their focus really is middle market, commercial real estate lending and commercial and industrial lending. That’s fundamentally what we’re seeing,” said Lee.
Smith sees plenty of opportunity and demand for what InterBank offers.
“The need and demand for growth capital in this market is more intensive than it’s ever been,” he said. “The opportunity here, and what InterBank provides, is their balance sheet and, as C.K. mentioned, creativity and desire to grow and prosper. Those things just really fit with our customer base.
“We do a lot of construction lending, multi-family, even hospitality, land, land development and home building. All of the things that are booming right now in this market are areas where we have developed a proficiency in our prior lives and we’re bringing that to the table here,” he said.
Smith has served in executive leadership roles in community banks in both Dallas and Tarrant counties for the past 20 years. As executive vice president and chief lending officer at Southwest Bank in Fort Worth, he excelled in talent acquisition, asset growth and community leadership leading up to the sale of the bank in 2017.
4255 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Fort Worth 76107
Smith holds a BS degree in agriculture economics from Texas A&M University and an MBA degree in finance from the University of Texas at Austin. He is active an active member of the Texas Bankers Association and Texas A&M University Chancellor’s Council. He is a past board member of the Fort Worth Chamber, Downtown Fort Worth Inc. and the Dallas Summer Musicals.
Fort Worth is key to the bank’s future, says Lee.
That building on Camp Bowie was formerly part of Park Cities Bank, which InterBank acquired in 2014.
“As I think about where we’re situated in the world, I can’t think of a better place to do business than Fort Worth, Texas,” said Lee. “Because you think about where in the world do you want to be, and there’s probably no better place than America in terms of entrepreneurial spirit, and economic opportunity, and diversity of thought and opinion. I just love the melting pot story. Then you scratch your head and say, ‘Well, where in America do you want to be?’ It’s hard to make a case against Texas in terms of people voting with their feet. We’re getting a real-time market check on that. Then when you look around Texas and you see there is just so much going on here in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, different places – you simply have to acknowledge that Fort Worth and the broader Metroplex is a critical part of that success story.”
InterBank is a subsidiary of Olney Bancshares, and the majority shareholder is Ross McKnight, a banker, rancher, oilman, and philanthropist who lives in Throckmorton, where he was born and raised. Until recently, McKnight was Chair of the Baylor Scott & White Holdings Board of Trustees.
McKnight said he is excited about the bank’s new direction as it serves not just the small towns of its roots, but also moving into the fast-growing urban areas.
“It’s a new direction for us,” he said. “Most of the communities in west Texas and the rural communities that we have started off in are having a tough time, in all candor, just holding their own. We’re just west Texas bankers. We just loan money to people that can repay it no matter who it is, as long as they can repay it.”
McKnight is pleased with the team InterBank has in place.
“To have someone with C.K.’s sophistication and maturity in the industry is great for us because he can show us things that we haven’t had expertise in before,” he said. “We’re excited about the great set of lenders that C.K. has put together.”
McKnight is also excited to have a strong presence in Fort Worth.
“Dallas is an economic engine of its own, but Fort Worth was always the big city that I went to growing up and it was the place that we went when I was a kid to the store. Fort Worth has always been just a grownup cow town, a ranch city that just got bigger and never wanted to lose its identity. I think the opportunity for Fort Worth to keep its identity, but still to grow and prosper is just amazing.”