By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
First National Bank in Staunton got an experienced banker back in 2001 when Brian Ury took on the role of executive vice president and senior loan officer.
But banking wasn’t his first career choice. He graduated Illinois State University in Bloomington with a degree in finance.
“When I went to college, I had an idea to go into financial planning. But I ended up one summer being provided an internship opportunity as a bank examiner while I was in college. I did that for two summers and really enjoyed it, so I ended up staying in the banking field,” he said.
After college, Ury spent 15 years in banking roles in Collinsville and Edwardsville before he moved to Staunton.
“In 2001, I was not looking for a job, I was happy where I was, but First National Bank was in the search for a senior lender to come in and begin cultivating a more commercial focus into its loans. I came on board with that purpose.”
Ury worked to begin diversifying the loan portfolio into commercial businesses and commercial real estate, largely in the Metro East area. Shortly thereafter, First National acquired Hamel State Bank, allowing it to have locations in Hamel
and Maryville. Bank acquisitions in the 1990s had already led to locations in Bethalto and Troy.
Today, the bank has nine locations. The others are the FNB Banking Centers in Mount Olive, Benld, Livingston and Holiday Shores.
The bank, founded in Staunton in 1934, remains locally owned by members of the Oltmann family, whose predecessors go back to the original board. The bank is around $540 million in assets.
Ury said smaller acquisitions have allowed the bank to expand in a natural progression out from Staunton. Now, the focus is more on what’s in place.
A big focus is on digital security.
“We’re working very hard with our customers to inform them of the risks that are out there in this new dynamic of business,” he said. “We’re identifying ways and working with our service providers to deliver the types of protections and communicate with our customers to try to limit the ability for fraud to take place.”
Ury said one of the things he likes best about the bank is its ability to foster relationships that serve every need in a customer’s life, from home loans, to car loans to student loans. And, he likes the ability to establish banking relationships with the children of customers, noting that those relationships are now “transportable.”
Lasting relationships are created by the bank’s own employees, many of whom have been there years.
“You’d be amazed at how many stand up to be recognized for 15, 20, 30 and even 40 years of service,” he said.
Ury and his wife Kimberly have two sons, Jacob and Jared, a sophomore and a seventh-grader. Ury is originally from the Anna-Jonesboro region near Carbondale.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH