After shareholders approved the merger of
Although there were a high number of bank failures as a consequence of the recession and many
"We're not doing this because we couldn't keep doing what we were doing. We just felt, for our shareholders, that we have a better chance coming together and growing the bank together," said
With the merger,
"It is a fairly natural expansion of where we've been operating in the four counties in the middle of
He said there is also a fit between
"Our strategy and Savannah River's strategy has been serving that local businessperson," Crapps said.
The growth in retail and industry in
"They're going to locate in growing communities that are successful," he said. "It was easy for us to look at that and say there's something going on in
Birth of a merger
Simon said he was having a conversation with his chief executive officer,
"Randy has a lot of banking experience. He knows a lot of people," Simon said. "He made some inquiries and we talked to Mike and we talked to another bank out of
In the meantime, Potter and Crapps were discussing a merger, and it turned out that the bank hoping to buy would allow itself to be sold.
Crapps knew Potter for a long time and considered him one of his industry confidants.
"When he called about this idea, to just sit down and chat and see whether there was any mutual interest, I was glad to do that," Crapps said.
Mergers usually start this way, Crapps explained, as conversations among people who know one another. Banking is a tight community.
Crapps, who started his banking career in
Executives for the two banks started more detailed discussions over the summer of 2013 until the official merger announcement in August.
Potter and Simon are now members of the board of directors for
He also said there would likely be some hiring to expand the financial planning and investment advising business, which the bank started in 2008 after clients suggested the business line.
"We will introduce that to the client base here (in
In talking about the future of the new bank, officials were intent on examining
"The growth in
Before the merger with Savannah River,
"As we look out into the horizon, there are other banks that might want to partner with us," Crapps said. "If we expand that way, we'll do so in a way that is friendly to our shareholders. And we'll do it in markets with similarities."
Little red tape
Spears said a conversion kit was sent to customers explaining what to expect with their debit cards and online banking when they became part of
"I've been through a number of bank mergers in my career of 33 years, and this one has been pretty smooth," he said.
Officials gauged the reaction after the merger announcement in August, and there wasn't much.
"It has been a nonevent. I think that speaks to the general population (being) used to companies merging in all industries," Spears said. "There's been a lot of consolidation in banking because of bad banks joining up with a stronger bank."
Crapps said the speed and ease of getting bank regulatory approval for the merger was the fact that neither bank is troubled.
"Because it was a combination of two healthy banks, ours went through pretty quickly. The
The most nervous portion of the merger was the Sunday before the announcement of the completed sale. The connection between the two bank's systems was supposed to be at
"Want to make sure it is working because that creates the first impression to the customer," Crapps said. "If there is a system glitch, then that is the first experience they have with this new entity. You want every interaction to be positive, but especially that first one."
Spears said the merger will be good for Savannah River's client because of the new offerings and more capacity to lend money. It is good for the shareholders to have publicly traded equity. And it will be good for employees, he said, because of the opportunities for advancement.
"We had limited career opportunities with Savannah River bank because of its size. With
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