All in the family
Business View Magazine interviews Scott Mabrey, CEO of Mabrey Bank, for our focus on Strength & Growth of Community Banks in America.
Family-Owned. Locally Operated. Here to Serve. That is the guiding mantra for one of Oklahoma’s favorite, long-time financial institutions. A proud and progressive fourth generation of Mabrey family members are now leading Mabrey Bank into yet another decade of doing what they do best – serving their local communities throughout the state with integrity and pleasure.
Describing the evolution of the incredible Mabrey Bank legacy, current CEO Scott Mabrey explains, “My grandfather was CEO, my dad was CEO, and now I am the third generation CEO. My great grandfather was never CEO but he was a minority owner when the bank was founded over 100 years ago, so I’m actually a fourth generation Mabrey working at the bank and third generation in leadership. Great grandfather (Carlisle Mabrey, Sr.) was one of the 10 original owners who each owned 10 percent. My grandfather (Carlisle Mabrey Jr.) gained a controlling interest in the bank in the late ‘60s. All four of his children, including the oldest (my dad, Carlisle Mabrey III) came back between 1972 and 1982 to work at the bank.”
That was, technically, the second generation. Scott continues, “They worked together for many years; one uncle and one aunt have semi-retired in the last five years and my dad is still relatively active as Executive Chairman. His youngest brother, my uncle John, is still active as our SEVP, Chief Administrative Officer. My brother, Carlisle Mabrey IV, is our COO. Mark Mabrey is our VP, Lending, and Melanie Mabrey Eggert is our VP, Consumer Real Estate Processing Supervisor.” According to Scott, they all get along well. And while they’re certainly not afraid to express their opinions and don’t always agree, there is a lot of respect. The cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings have each found their own role in the bank and enjoy a healthy, united working relationship.
Mabrey Bank employs about 250 team members, spread throughout the firm’s headquarters in Bixby and 15 full-service locations across the state of Oklahoma. Seven of those are in the Tulsa Metro Area and the newest is in Oklahoma City, which opened six years ago with a small office and re-opened in Feb. 2020 as a 10,000-sq.-ft., full-service facility. “We couldn’t be more excited about our flagship location in Oklahoma City,” says Scott. “We can add on to it easily, there is a lot of space and a lot of land for future growth and expansion in Oklahoma City.”
The brick and mortar locations are a 50/50 mix of older, existing buildings and newer architecture. The Okmulgee location is in a National Historic building, where the bank was originally founded and its headquarters remained until 2005. At that point, the head office was merged into the Bixby bank charter and relocated into a building constructed in 1999. Most of the Tulsa locations were built in the last 15 years, while the Haskell, Weleetka, and Morris facilities are in more established buildings. Scott notes, “We take a lot of pride in our facilities and we see them as a further extension of our marketing and branding. Most of our buildings are recognizable; typically spacious and nicely decorated. For example, in our Oklahoma City facility, we had a stunning, contemporary piece of art installed. The large, eye-catching mobile was created by New York artist, Sharon Louden, and hangs prominently up in the 35-foot-high ceiling.”
Mabrey Bank has adapted well to the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. All the drive-thru sites have been open the entire time; the bank lobbies have remained open by appointment, which can easily be scheduled online. The firm is taking health and hygiene precautions seriously with plastic dividers at all teller windows and New Accounts desks, etc. Hand sanitizer is readily available and rules for physical distancing are imposed, but all Mabrey Bank facilities remain open. In areas that were deemed to be crowded, team members’ work spaces were moved around and some are working from home. But the fact that the banks are so spacious means that the majority of offices or cubicle areas are spaced out.
In essence, Mabrey Bank is a traditional commercial bank that handles commercial and consumer needs. What makes them unique in today’s changing banking realm is the ability to offer customers the best of both worlds – friendly and flexible service that you would expect from a family-owned-and-operated bank, with financial offerings of technology and mobile banking that rival the largest national banks. Consumer household loans and mortgages make up 25 percent of the loan portfolio and 75 percent consists of commercial – commercial real estate, commercial industrial, traditional manufacturing companies, oil & gas related companies, healthcare, and service industries, among others.
Scott reports, “We currently have 25,000 customers and assets of around $1.4 billion – we were close to about $1.25 billion, but then we added about $130 million of assets of PPP loans that got us up to $1.4 billion. Being locally owned and operated, we’re able to make decisions quickly and I think our ability to adapt to the ever-changing PPP loan environment made that more evident because we were able to process loans for a lot of people that the big banks couldn’t do. That added to our growth and we were able to help out many customers that were in need at that point in time.”
Firmly rooted in its niche as a community bank, much of the Mabrey family’s success has come from getting to know their customers and understanding their business, or their personal needs, and establishing a deep relationship of mutual trust. Scott admits, “People enjoy banking with Mabrey Bank because of that relationship. The family name certainly means a lot but it’s all our wonderful bankers who are great at developing a rapport with our customer base. We have a very experienced commercial staff, and consumer and private bankers, as well. Our turnover is very low because we take our corporate culture seriously. Every year, we have each team member take a corporate culture survey – it’s basically their report card on management to make sure we are providing a good, healthy, and happy culture for our people to work in. My dad always said, you spend more time at work than with your family, and if it can’t be fun and enjoyable, it’s not worth it.”
The bank also does reverse evaluations every year, where each supervisor is rated by those team members that report to them. The results are used as a coaching tool for supervisors and managers to get honest feedback from their team. It all ties in with Mabrey Bank’s core values of professionalism, high performance, integrity, reliability, teamwork, and commitment to serving their communities. Valuable vendor relationships are extremely important to the bank, as well. One such core provider is Jack Henry & Associates, a Mabrey Bank partner since the 1980s that supplies many of their technology solutions. Scott also acknowledges, “In this day and age there are so many necessary products to have in your arsenal to be a competitive bank in a digital world that we rely on a lot of really good vendors for products that we can in turn provide to our clients.”
For the foreseeable future, Mabrey Bank will focus on serving Oklahomans. “We’re very happy with the footprint we have and, again, very excited to expand in the Oklahoma City market,” says Scott. “We want to continue our steady, measured growth like we’ve done for the last several years. As far as the next Mabrey generation, they’re all still pretty young; none are out of college yet. And we do have a family employment policy. You have to be qualified to even work at the bank, but you also have to have a college degree and outside work experience. So, that next generation is several years away from being eligible.”
Director of Marketing, Lisa McLarty, adds, “Mabrey Bank has grown over the years through the same principles we value in our customers: hard work, integrity, and treating people with respect. While we have continued to enhance our digital offerings and financial solutions, we haven’t lost sight of the importance of a meaningful relationship and having a banker that really knows you (and your business). Plus, being family-owned and operated gives us the flexibility to make decisions quickly and pivot when necessary to meet a customer’s unique needs.”
“In terms of marketing practices, our focus on putting relationships first continues as our top priority. We rarely advertise rates, instead we focus on highlighting our customers and how our partnership has helped them reach their financial goals. Of course, we utilize traditional marketing methods such as digital, print, and outdoor but I would argue that our most powerful marketing resources are our team and the testimonials of our customers to their friends and family. We know that the ripple effect of creating the best possible work environment and taking good care of our customers is far more powerful than any ad. Lastly, our employees are deeply engaged and respected in their local communities. Through their commitment to serving the community through civic organizations, local events, and non-profits as board members and volunteers, the bank’s reach and reputation has continued to grow in a positive way.”
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AT A GLANCE
What: Family-owned and operated traditional commercial bank
Where: 15 full-service locations across Oklahoma