An era ends next week at America’s Community Bank in downtown Blue Springs, though the bank will remain in local hands.
Wes Condron, the bank’s owner, president and CEO, is stepping down Jan. 4, as is Executive Vice President Cindy Miller. Both have been in banking their entire careers.
“I’m 75 years old. I’ve been in banking 55 years,” Condron said. He can recall when there were no electronic calculators and accounts had to balanced, by hand, daily.
His first job was at City National Bank at Tenth and Grand in downtown Kansas City.
“I started as a loan clerk in the commercial loan department,” he said. He also was at UMB in Blue Springs for 17 years, where he was its first president. He came to the city in 1974, a time was the city was far smaller but headed into the strongest era of growth in its history.
“I used to know every businessman in town in the 1970s,” he said.
He’s owned different banks over the years, as many as seven at one time, and became the majority owner of America’s Community Bank in 1981. He also has been active in banking trade groups and is a past president of the Missouri Independent Bankers Association.
“The best banking decision I ever made was hiring Cindy Miller,” he said.
She had joined a bank Condron owned in Bunceton, Mo.
“And I’ve pretty much only worked in banks ever since,” she said.
Miller said working with people – helping customers meet their needs – is what’s important to her.
“My favorite part is that all our decisions are made right now,” she said.
Still, Condron said the biggest change he’s seen over the years is what he called “the constant flood of new regulations coming out of Washington,” especially those under the Dodd-Frank Act passed after the banking crisis connected to the Great Recession. He echoes many other community bankers in saying the rules designed to address problems at large banks have hammered smaller banks, to the point that they stand in the way of good loans being made.
The 20,000 to 30,000 pages of Dodd-Frank – “I mean, if you start right now you couldn’t read them before you die,” Condron said – put a burden on a company like America’s Community Bank, with just eight employees. That legislation also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “which is my opinion is a rogue agency,” Condron said.
“So it’s been very frustrating,” he said, “trying to figure out how to help customers and stay within the rules.”
Miller plans to stay active in the Rotary Club and with the Downtown Alive! program in Blue Springs. Condron said he’s looking forward to golf and more time outdoors generally.
Condron is selling the bank to Twila and Richard Gragg. Twila Gragg has been in local banking for decades, at one time being the part-owner of the Bank of Jacomo. When the sale of the Adams Dairy Bank is completed in the spring of 2018, America’s Community Bank will be only locally owned one in Blue Springs.
The bank recently had a retirement reception for Miller and Condron, which he called “one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had in banking.”