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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Wells Fargo: Wagons and More

In 2019, Wells Fargo named Aaron Capps as Commercial Bank Market Leader for Fort Worth. Since then, Capps, a longtime resident of the area with 17 years at Wells Fargo, has been building and strengthening relationships in the community.

Capps believes Fort Worth is in a great place economically and says he’s excited about Wells Fargo investing in this area with a focus on market growth through a concerted effort that touches on relationship management, business services and resources, and community involvement.

The Fort Worth Business Press met with Capps to discuss his perspective on the local economy, his views on commercial banking and the bank’s philanthropic activities. Here are some lightly edited transcripts from the conversation.

FWBP: Tell us about yourself.

Capps: I live in Southlake with my wife and two small girls, 8 and 6 years old. So, we’ve been longtime inhabitants of Tarrant County here. I’ve been with Wells Fargo for 17 years and started here in Fort Worth as a banker off in Rosedale, a property up there and spent five years as a banker. Then I formally joined the leadership ranks in 2008, and we moved to Addison to oversee the Wachovia commercial bank team, their integration into Wells Fargo. Then a couple other roles and jumped on the opportunity to return to Fort Worth.

Tell us about how the commercial banking segment of the bank has been re-organized.

We’ve just completed a reorganization of how we service the business community. We recognize an opportunity to improve customer experience through combining the strengths of three legacy businesses. Business banking, middle market banking and government and institutional banking are now combined into one umbrella of commercial banking. We service customers with annual sales of $5 million to $2 billion, which includes 130,000 relationships in the nation, 6,000 team members, 24 divisions and 80 markets with Fort Worth being one of those markets. The benefit of this is really a simplified leadership structure, and it’s led by Kyle Hranicky [head of Corporate Banking at Wells Fargo & Company]. It’s interesting to note that Kyle began his career as an analyst here in Fort Worth. … We’ve made a lot of changes. What’s not changed though is our commitment to long-term relationships, our local presence, local decision making. That local presence and local decision making has been a linchpin of our business model for over 150 years.

What do you see going on in the Fort Worth economy?

Fort Worth excites me for a number of reasons. The whole Metroplex is very vibrant. It’s outperforming the rest of the nation in growth. Fort Worth is no exception. We’re seeing very robust hiring in Fort Worth in trade and transportation and manufacturing. Those two industries really stand out and have helped to bring a 3.1% unemployment rate to the Greater Fort Worth area. That’s exciting, but it also brings challenges. We have a number of our clients who are reporting difficulty in finding and hiring talent, and that has driven wage costs at a rate greater than inflation. We’re seeing the pressures of a very tight labor market.

Mitigating that though is the population migration. So, over 100 individuals move to Fort Worth, the Greater Fort Worth area, every day. On average in 2018, it was a little over 40,000 people migrated to the area. That’s really benefited the construction and housing industries as well.

Capps then went on to talk about some of Wells Fargo’s community endeavors.

When I think about our local commitment to financial health and to affordable housing, I think about the NeighborhoodLIFT program, which we recently launched. Wells Fargo has made a $1 billion commitment to affordable housing through 2025 and, locally, it was $5.5 million and 325 individuals and families with down payment assistance.

Eligible buyers can earn up to 80% of the area median income, which is $60,800 in Tarrant County and $66,500 in Dallas for a family of up to four.

Military service members and veterans, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians may reserve down payment assistance grants of $17,500 and earn up to 100% of the area median income.

In addition to that commitment to housing, we have the Wells Fargo Foundation, which invests in local nonprofits. [The 2018 numbers were around $3.1 million.]

Then on the philanthropic side, also we have just the community support campaign we run, which our team members give gifts to nonprofits as well as time. So, for example, in September, we had 68 commercial banking team members volunteering at Camp Carter YMCA for the day. It was one of their biggest volunteer events that they’ve ever hosted. [The bank has a date of service every years where teams are encouraged to use their paid volunteer time and invest it in causes they care the most about.]

Riding the Stagecoach

Aaron Capps, Market Executive for Wells Fargo Commercial Banking, said he loves starting his day walking by the iconic stagecoach in the lobby of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Fort Worth.

“That, and a number of Wells Fargo antiques, if you will, I keep in my office, remind me of a simpler time when decisions were based in simple values, like be a man of your word, and your reputation in the community is something to protect,” he said. “Your handshakes should mean something, right? I get reminded of those very basic principles every day as I walk by the stagecoach.”

Here’s the story of the stagecoach.

In 2006 and in seeking more space, Wells Fargo moved the Fort Worth regional office from 505 Main St. to the City Center Towers complex. To celebrate the move and the naming of the “Wells Fargo Tower,” the San Francisco-based bank began talking with Sundance Square and Wells Fargo Historical Services to build a replica Wells Fargo stagecoach for display in the building lobby.

A few years prior, the bank had built a replica for display at the Fort Worth Zoo (where it remains today) and having a second stagecoach downtown would be an important demonstration of the bank’s presence and commitment to the Fort Worth community.

While working on the second replica, the bank learned of an antique coach that was recently acquired from a collector, undergoing restoration. Through a collaboration with the Wells Fargo historical team and Sundance Square, Wells Fargo was able to display an original antique stagecoach in the lobby of the Wells Fargo Tower.

This is the only antique stagecoach on display in Texas and one of only a few in the nation on display outside of Wells Fargo History Museums.

This stagecoach is No. 670, one of two ordered by T.H. Walker of Richmond, Virginia, on May 11, 1860, from the J.S. and E.A. Abbot Company, Concord, New Hampshire. It is a nine-passenger, bag-boot, western-style coach.

The coach has the customary top passenger seat behind the driver’s seat. It was equipped with brakes, oil lamps, and sand boxes that opened at the bottom. The sand boxes are the tin cups surrounding the back of the wheel hub used to prevent sand and dirt from getting into the wheel boxings.

The coach was finished on June 18, 1860, the body as well as the gear painted straw color, with floral decorations painted on the lower quarter coach panels. Fittingly, as the coach was to be used in Virginia, the left door had on it a painting of Monticello, Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the right one a painting of Mount Vernon, Washington’s home.

In the 19th Century stagecoaches connected cities and towns, carrying passengers, mail and express wherever the railroads did not go. Since coach No. 670 still has its original paint and decorations, it likely served the Richmond area for most of its service life. After it was retired, several collectors owned it, until Wells Fargo bought it in 2005.

Commercial Banking Team Leaders

Lou Ann Richardson: Commercial Banking Leader – Middle Market ( companies with $50 million to $2 billion in annual sales)

• Wells Fargo hire date – 1995. 35 years total banking experience.

• Serves as Executive Sponsor for North Texas Women Owned Business initiatives.

Freddy Espericueta: Commercial Banking Leader – Core Market (companies with $5 million to $50 million in annual sales)

• Wells Fargo hire date – 2004.

• Oversees relationship and support team for Fort Worth proper and Waco markets.

Michael Khoury: Commercial Banking Leader – Core Market (companies with $5 million to $50 million in annual sales)

• Wells Fargo hire date – 2005

• Oversees relationship and support team for Mid-cities and Denton markets.

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