15 minutes with… Ronnie Falgoust

CEO and president of the $888 million-asset First American Bank and Trust in Vacherie, La.

IB: How did you get into triathlons?
Falgoust: I’ve been a cyclist on and off through the years. A few friends were doing triathlons, so I thought I would give it a try. I picked up racing about four years ago, looking for a challenge both mentally and physically. After several small triathlons, I decided to try the Half Ironman, and my first one was last year in Galveston, Texas. That one was pretty flat, but this last one [in California] was 2,700 feet of climbing—a little bit tougher this time. People said those were hills, but I consider them mountains. There’s nothing like that around here.

Quick fact

Ronnie Falgoust completed his second Half Ironman in Oceanside, Calif., in April. The 70.3-mile race is not for the faint-hearted: There’s a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

IB: Any lessons from racing that can translate into community banking, or vice versa?
Falgoust: Doing these races helps me to set goals outside of the bank. It takes a lot of time and dedication in training to finish a Half Ironman. The same approach is good for banking: In order to accomplish your goals, it takes a lot of hard work and determination.

IB: Tell us about First American Bank and Trust.
Falgoust: First American has been around for more than a century, and we have had continuous steady growth. We have a strong core capital ratio of 12.98 percent and a strong ROA of 1.40 percent. We have 24 locations in 11 southeast Louisiana parishes, and we’re set to open its 25th branch. Our service area is southeast Louisiana in both rural and metropolitan areas.

We have a nice mix of commercial and residential home loans in our $514-million portfolio. The bank focuses predominantly on real estate lending, making commercial and residential loans to owner-occupied business properties, apartment complexes and hotels, and we have also built up its one-to-four family home loan portfolio quite a bit over the last five years.
We’re a strong, locally owned community bank with 217 employees. They provide great customer service, and that has been a key to our success throughout the years. —Katie Kuehner-Hebert