M&F Bank names new CEO [The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) :: ]
(News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 12--Mechanics and Farmers Bank has tapped a veteran banker and technology expert to succeed Kim Saunders as president and CEO following a nationwide search.
James H. Sills III is departing his position as the state of Delaware's chief information officer and secretary of the Department of Technology to take the helm of the century-old bank beginning Sept. 1. He also will be president and CEO of the bank's corporate parent, M&F Bancorp.
Sills previously was chief operating officer of First Tuskegee Bank, president and CEO of Memphis First Community Bank and executive vice president at MBNA America Bank.
James A. Stewart, chairman of Mechanics and Farmers, said Sills' banking experience and strong technology background, combined with his leadership skills, made him stand out among several qualified candidates that the bank considered.
"Being able to keep up with technology is going to be very important to maintain and grow our customer base," Stewart said.
Saunders, who had led Mechanics and Farmers since 2007, stepped down as president and CEO of the bank in March. But she has remained president and CEO of M&F Bancorp.
"Kim has been invaluable in helping with the transition," Stewart said.
Since March, James Sansom has been the bank's interim president. Sansom will remain in his position of chief lending officer.
Stewart said that Saunders chose to step down from leading the bank "after an extended medical leave."
"She's all right medically," he said. "She just decided the day-to-day grind was not for her. She wanted to look for more strategic opportunities to work on."
Mechanics and Farmers, which opened its first branch in 1908, was a pioneer of "Black Wall Street," the Parrish Street neighborhood in Durham where a number of black-owned enterprises flourished in the early 20th century. The bank has been profitable every year since then.
Today Mechanics and Farmers has seven branches statewide, including two each in Durham and Raleigh.
Sills said that he was attracted by the bank's rich history and its future prospects.
The markets the bank serves "are all growing and they are very attractive to bankers and community bankers," Sills said. "I think it's a great opportunity."
He added: "We are looking for new customers. ... I just want people to know we're going to be coming after their business."
Last year the bank reported net income of $126,000, or 6 cents per share, compared with $104,000, or 5 cents per share, a year earlier. Net income before dividends paid to the U.S. Treasury stemming from federal stimulus money the bank received in 2009 totaled $363,000 in2013, up from $341,000 in 2012.
"We think we have a long way to go and we can make certainly better profits than we have in the past few years," Stewart said. "The economy was tough on all banks and particularly on minority banks as the rate of unemployment was very sky high. Even in those times we were able to continue to make profits."
The bank's announcement included a statement from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who praised Sills for "implementing technology solutions and programs that are not only cost-effective, but enhance productivity and service delivery."
Sills has a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College, a master's degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh and a graduate degree in retail bank management from the University of Wisconsin. He also has some local ties -- his father was born and raised in Wake County and his grandmother graduated from Shaw University.
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