Emerging Leader: G. Frank Teas


G. Frank Teas

Senior Vice President–Director of Banking Services, Southern Region
Lake Sunapee Bank in Newport, N.H.
Years in the industry: 28
Bank assets: $1.5 billion
Website: www.lakesunbank.com

Through experience and observation, G. Frank Teas has lived a rollercoaster “life cycle” of community banking

By Beth Mattson-Teig

G. Frank Teas has a unique perspective of the community bank industry. His career spans some 23 years—28 if you count his years of part-time work in high school and college. From courier to corner office executive, he has worked in all kinds of roles and responsibilities. He also has experienced a full “life cycle” of community banking, from an FDIC closure to the launch and sale of his own startup.

His seasoned, firsthand experience has ingrained a strong but balanced commitment to serving both shareholders and customers, he says. His earned insights have considered the essential ingredients for a community bank to survive and thrive within a continually evolving industry, economy and world: “It takes a solid strategic plan, great management of capital and a dynamic management team,” he offers.

Teas, 45, says a successful community bank will have a management team with depth and breadth that extends well beyond its top few executives. “You have to be accepting of ideas and recommendations from everyone throughout the organization,” he adds.

Now the senior vice president and Southern Region director of banking services for Lake Sunapee Bank in Newport, N.H., Teas grew up in and around community banking. His grandfather was a community banker, first in Vermont and then later in Teas’s own hometown of Nashua, N.H. It was that family connection that gave Teas his first taste of community banking. It also helped shape his views of the banking industry that last today.

“I really enjoy providing capital to emerging, small and mid-size businesses in the community to help them fuel the success of our region,” he offers.

Although his grandfather had retired by the time Teas had graduated from Bryant College with a degree in finance in 1991, he then went to work back in the credit department of that hometown community bank. Five months later, the FDIC shuttered the bank, the victim of a poor economy. Because that community bank had played a powerful role in the community, its closure had planted the seed with Teas that there had to be a way to launch a new community bank.

An end can lead to a new beginning.

Teas was just 23 then, but that didn’t stop him from meeting with people in the banking industry to discuss a potential start-up community bank. He quickly realized that to make his dream a reality, he would need more experience. He took jobs strategically to help him learn how to start a community bank in the future. Those positions have included vice president of commercial lending at a New Hampshire community bank, and then vice president and regional manager at another.

In 2006, Teas gave his notice and started fundraising full time to launch The Nashua Bank, which would replace the community bank his hometown lost years before. He raised $12.5 million in capital from about 240 shareholders. Nine months after opening the bank in October 2007, it was posting consistent profits. And then the Wall Street financial crisis rippled across the globe, including his corner of north New England. Although The Nashua Bank was growing and operating efficiently, the financial crisis created a brutally challenging climate for a de novo bank.

By 2012 The Nashua Bank, now $120 million in assets, was still profitable, but needed more capital to continue to grow. “We were adamant that we did not want to dilute our original shareholders. So we decided to go the route of finding a strategic partner,” Teas says.

That conviction and decision ultimately resulted in the merger with the larger Lake Sunapee Bank. Teas says the merger, completed in December 2012, has benefitted both The Nashua Bank’s shareholders—the value of their original stock has nearly doubled since the merger—and the area’s residents. “We have very robust products and services, but we also have that hometown feel where we build the relationships one-on-one with the customers,” he says of Lake Sunapee Bank.

Teas plans to return to a top community bank executive role at some point in the future. But for now, he is content working as the “eyes and ears” for Lake Sunapee Bank in southern New Hampshire. “My job is to maintain existing relationships. Find new ones. Ensure that we acquire the correct human talent, and be mindful of potential opportunities to get into markets that are under-served so that we can help grow the organization,” he says.

Beth Mattson-Teig is a freelance writer in Minnesota.