15 minutes with…Tom Wilbur

President and CEO of the $103 million-asset BANK VI in Salina, Kan.

IB: What makes you proud to lead BANK VI?
Tom Wilbur: Starting a bank from scratch is an interesting challenge. The successes I most appreciate are the hard times we overcame to become a viable community bank. Displaced bankers from bigger banks started a lot of banks, and their startups are no longer in business. But we’re still here. We’ve done good things, and I’m proud of our relationships with clients.

IB: What are some new ideas your bank has explored?
Wilbur: A study in our community examined the need for single parents to get into homeownership. I [helped] develop a program that would loan a single parent 100 percent of the purchase price of a home if they could demonstrate two things: two years of continuous employment and on-time rental payment. We were blown away to see that the appreciation value of homes [during those years] went up substantially over other years. It was because we created a market for first-time home purchases. These single parents are hard-working people in our community who [might] never have saved enough for a down payment on a home. We simply removed the impediment and demonstrated we trusted them.

IB: Tell us about the rock band you started.
Wilbur: In 1980, the Blues Brothers were emerging, and we had a Christmas party coming up at First National Bank in Salina. My wife was a teller there, and she played piano, and a vice president in lending had paid his way through college by playing in a band. Another teller had a husband who had previously been a professional drummer. The senior lender of the bank loved the music of the Sixties. He couldn’t sing or play an instrument, so we handed him a cowbell. There was going to be a regular band at the Christmas party, so I asked if we could plug in during the breaks. They said okay, and the Last National Band was born. Thirty-seven years later, we still occasionally play. We’ve raised thousands of dollars for local charities and non-profit organizations—and those are my favorite gigs. —Sara Schlueter

Quick facts

Tom Wilbur launched BANK VI after Sixth Bancshares, Inc., acquired the Citizens State Bank in Geneseo, Kan.
His band, the Last National Band, plays at clubs, conventions and weddings. They recently played for a crowd of 11,000 at a festival.