Local bank expands operations
By COREY DAVIS
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
A community bank that started in Rocky Mount in 2012 has continued to grow with a recent expansion into the Triangle and has an upcoming loan office slated to open in Wilmington.
First Carolina Bank, which celebrated five years of operations last month, opened its first full-service branch in Raleigh on July 17 at 2626 Glenwood Ave. Ron Day, president and CEO of First Carolina Bank, said the company already has a loan production office in the same location, which opened in 2015.
The Raleigh branch is located on the first floor of the same building and employs four full-time employees, Day said.
“There is an amazing amount of coordination going on between Rocky Mount and Raleigh in a number of areas right now,” Day said. “We have shareholders who are business people in both places, who have a high demand for what we’re offering them in terms of banking services. It’s just a natural extension for us.”
Day added the success of the loan production office was a strong factor in First Carolina Bank’s decision to continue to expand in Raleigh.
“The market there is very strong and the business climate is very good,” Day said. “We had a fair amount of business that we already put on the loan side since we started a couple years ago, and those customers really wanted to deposit with us. We’ve been searching for an appropriate place to open up a deposit office and we’re really lucky to open a branch in the same building that people already know we’re there.”
First Carolina Bank is in the process of opening another loan production office in Wilmington, which is slated to open on Sept. 1.
“Our goal is to replicate what we’ve done in Raleigh in Wilmington, which is start off with a loan business and immediately try to find a location to be a full-service branch as quickly as possible,” Day said. “The reason we’re able to do this is because of how strong we are in Rocky Mount. Things are going extremely well in Rocky Mount and have been for several years. The economy is continuing to improve locally there and our performance has enabled us to grow elsewhere. That wouldn’t happen if we weren’t really strong in Rocky Mount.”
The opening of the new Raleigh branch offsets the loss of a Greenville branch, which First Carolina Bank closed in September 2016.
“That branch wasn’t well-situated of what we’re trying to do,” Day said. “Greenville is a very competitive market and we didn’t have the same strategic assets relative to people and shareholders that could’ve helped us compete effectively. We have that more available in Raleigh and Wilmington.”
Despite the loss of the Greenville office, Day said, First Carolina Bank has grown by 60 percent during the first seven months of 2017. The bank stood at $205 million in assets at the end of 2016, and finished July just shy of $280 million in assets, Day said. He anticipates the bank passing more than $300 million in assets by the late third quarter or early fourth quarter.
First Carolina Bank has 263 shareholders, which grew with the additions of 35 to 40 new shareholders last year with the bank being able to raise $9 million in new capital in 2016, Day said.
“We’re constantly reviewing our capital plan in preparation of our growth,” he said. “We have a lot of people that are interested in what the company is doing and very willing to invest in our effort, and we’re really appreciative of that.”
First Carolina Bank has added five new employees in the past 30 days and likely a sixth employee soon at the loan production office in Wilmington. Day said First Carolina Bank will have 32 employees by the end of the month and probably around 35 employees at the end of the year.
With the string of bank consolidations happening in recent months, Day doesn’t forsee First Carolina Bank going in the same direction.
“We’ve been able to accomplish it as a bank organically,” Day said. “Just being able to go and grow our company without having to consolidate has been a good formula for us. The environment is such we’re going to be in an advantageous position for a very long time.”