Leonard Moreland - CEO Heritage Bank (Feet First instead of head first)

Why feet first instead of head first?

Why feet first instead of head first? It’s just my nature!

This marks my first blog and quite frankly I am a little scared. Over the years, I have written a lot of letters to shareholders and clients of Heritage Bank and, usually, I had something on my mind or the need to summarize the year’s activity. This is my first venture into the electronic world where my thoughts or comments can be shared easily with anyone and may be ridiculed by many. So I am going in feet first, just in case.

I figured my first posting should be something near and dear to me because it may be determined that my first post is my last, so I better make the most of it. Most of the clients of Heritage Bank have never seen behind the curtain of our company. I want to take a minute and reveal some of the things I am most proud of. Many only see the brick and mortar, the monthly statement in the mail, or the heritagebank.com website, but there is more. Sixty years ago a group of business leaders formed Clayton County Federal Savings and Loan in Jonesboro, Georgia. The primary purpose was to offer mortgage loans and savings accounts to the growing Clayton County population. Over the last sixty years, other financial institutions have come and gone in Clayton County and either sold or merged with other institutions. Today, Heritage Bank remains as the only locally owned and managed bank in Clayton County. In the late 1990s, we changed the name of the bank from Clayton County Federal to Heritage Bank after we expanded into Henry and Fayette counties. The ownership, management, and above all philosophy of offering financial services to our community at a reasonable price with a superior level of service has remained the same.

We didn’t expand into Henry and Fayette counties with the intent of conquering or building a mega-bank; we expanded because many of our deepest roots and most loyal customers had moved to neighboring counties to escape the growth of Clayton and to enjoy the rural settings. Now more than fifteen years later, we find ourselves the only locally owned and managed bank in Henry County and one of only two in Fayette County. The Great Recession was not kind to banking in our neck of the woods, but Heritage Bank found a path through the troubled times. We all know the Lord does not pick winners and losers, and in fact, gives us all the chance to be winners; through His guidance and the loyalty of our customers we managed to navigate the tough roads of the past few years. Now, as Henry and Fayette become more crowded and clients continue to seek greener pastures, we will again have to make tough decisions on whether Heritage Bank should expand into new markets as well. As we know, the technology of today allows more folks to do their banking either from the palm of their hand or the computer at their desk. While this may mean less dependence on brick and mortar, we at Heritage know it is that face to face contact that makes us different.

I can only imagine when Mr. Kemper (the first president of Clayton Federal) turned the reins over to David Turner there was angst. Then twenty years ago when David turned the reins over to me there was apprehension. The truth is whether it was Mr. Kemper, David, or I, the Heritage philosophy hasn’t changed. If you care for your fellow employees and clients things tend to work out. You simply can’t fake a servant’s heart or a truly caring attitude. The employees of Heritage Bank are driven from within to want to serve. They have a real desire to identify challenges and then provide thoughtful solutions. It isn’t about selling a product or signing someone up for a new service; it is about being a trusted financial partner and taking care of your neighbor. That makes it special for me! I am proud to be called the leader of Heritage Bank because my roughly 100 coworkers represent me and this company in a fashion that makes me proud. If you are a customer of Heritage Bank, you know what I am talking about. The name you associate with Heritage is probably Todd, Kay, Dan, Cindy, Sally, Dondra, Jenny, John, Don, Kerry, David, Sheila, Pamela— the list can go on and on, and that is the way it should be. We are people listening and trying to find solutions for all of the complex financial challenges you face. We are in the community giving back and trying to pay it forward. Finally, we strive to share our blessings and bounty. If you aren’t familiar with the Heritage Community Foundation, take a moment and go to heritagecommunityfoundation.org and see how we are trying to make a difference.

I don’t know who would ever want to read a blog written by a bank president in south metro Atlanta, Georgia, but if you are that person, I invite you to come and experience banking the way we think it should be done. No pressure, no quotas, no endless run around— just people serving people the way they would want to be served and somewhere along the way creating value for our clients.

Heritage Bank CEO - Leonard Moreland

Take Care,

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