15 Minutes With…Sam Jarvis

Sam Jarvis

Outside director of $106 million-asset
First National Bank, Cortez in Cortez, Colo.

IB: First National Bank is a one-branch bank in a town of 9,000 people in southwest Colorado. What do you see as its biggest challenge?
Sam Jarvis: We are a small market that is drastically overbanked. The burdensome regulatory environment is costly and time consuming. We have competition, and loan demand is spread very, very thin. That’s our challenge. We’re out there always trying to build relationships with small business and the farmers, the ranchers—that’s just what we have to do. It’s all about relationships.

IB: Many people in your community know you best in a red suit. Are there skills that transfer from being an outside bank director to being Santa?
Jarvis: As Santa Claus, I engage all ages of people in all economic conditions in the same way. From a banking standpoint, I think we have to engage people that way as well. We have to be available and willing to help and create smiles.

IB: How did you first become Santa?
Jarvis: I had a very good client and close personal friend whose wife wanted to have a children’s Christmas party for his employees. He wouldn’t be Santa Claus for the party, so they conned me into doing it. It’s like I’ve never looked back. It’s all about the smiles and the hugs. The hugs are the greatest thing, and it doesn’t matter if they come from a three- or four-year-old, or if they come from an 80-year-old. It’s just pleasant.

—Andrea Lahouze