Pot Bellied Pig Helps Regional Bank Growth Strategy: An Interview with Rex L. Smith III of Community Bankers Trust (NASDAQ:ESXB)

January 5, 2018

Rex L. Smith III is a Director, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Bankers Trust Corporation and Essex Bank (NASDAQ:ESXB)Mr. Smith has been a director of the company since 2011. Mr. Smith has been President and Chief Executive Officer of the company and the bank since 2011. He served as the bank’s Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer from 2010 to 2011, and he held the responsibilities of President and Chief Executive Officer of the company and the bank, including serving as Executive Vice President of the company, for eight months in 2010 and 2011.

From 2009 to 2010, he was the bank’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. From 2007 to 2009, he was the Central Virginia President for Gateway Bank and Trust, and from 2000 to 2007, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of The Bank of Richmond. Mr. Smith has over 35 years of experience in the banking industry and a unique perspective from the management experiences that he has had with different banks. He is also intimately aware of the particular opportunities and challenges facing the company and the bank, as he has been a member of executive management for eight years.

In his exclusive interview with the Wall Street Transcript, Mr. Smith details the strategy and tactics for developing a small regional bank.

“We have added two or three new branches a year. Most recently, we have gone into a new market in Lynchburg, Virginia. We opened a loan production office that has been there for a few years. We opened a branch up in May. Then, just recently, in fact Monday — December 4, 2017 — we opened our second location in Lynchburg. It is a market that we like as it is contiguous to the Central Virginia market with a lot going on. We have continued to expand in the Maryland market. In Richmond, we opened a new branch in the Short Pump area this year. We have a second one planned in the Midlothian area of Richmond.

So we have done a lot of de novo, but I think we also have some excess capital. At some point, we will run across another bank that is tired of trying to fight the battle and does not have the size to make the economics of scale work and has similar types of growth patterns. Somewhere among the Maryland and Virginia geography, we are going to find somebody and join up and partner with them.”

Rex Smith also highlights some of the unusual marketing tactics that has increased his bank’s brand awareness:

“TWST: Can you provide an example of what you think will be a point of uniqueness, even if it is something small?

Mr. Smith: We have pet days at our branches that we discuss on social media. If you go to Facebook and Twitter, you can see we announce the pet of the week. People bring in cats and dogs. We had a potbellied pig come in one day.

We are trying to make it a unique and fun atmosphere for our clients so they feel comfortable coming into a financial institution. That is one of the examples. One of our branch managers picked up on the fact that there were people who were leaving their pets in cars when it was hot or cold, and so now we are encouraging them to bring the pet in, and we are taking photos and giving away some prizes.

We do “Lunch On Us” throughout the year at the branches, where we go out and grill lunches and do giveaways. We are encouraging our customers to come in and interact so we can learn about each other.”

To get the full picture of the Community Bankers Trust Corporation and Essex Bank plans for growth, read the entire interview at the Wall Street Transcript.