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Business Monthly - First National Bank expands
First National Bank.jpg
FIRST NATIONAL BANK of Middle Tennessee
Van Vuuren

First National Bank of Middle Tennessee, a 148-year business, has increased employment by 28 people (+20.6%) over the last two years.  

More impressive is the fact that 19 of the 28 (67.9%) are McMinnville based. Total employment at FNBMT now stands at 164. This is a 39% increase since 2019 or pre-COVID.  

This employee increase stems from the management strategy – a community bank with all the services you can find at any larger financial institution. Customer service has always been a priority for First National. However, this has become a bigger push lately.

The bank has opened a new 5-person customer call center with its operations at the Sparta Road branch. This call center is to handle all incoming customer service that will assist customers with stop payments, account questions, CD rates, bank wires etc. This call center practices a “three ring max” guideline to help assure happy customers and their phone calls are promptly answered.  

First National has also added five loan officers across the markets served and two loan support employees. This staffing directly supports bank growth. Two employees were added to electronic banking and two for treasury management. 

FNBMT has devoted a lot of resources to depository operations over the last three years and it is apparent that it has become a top priority. This depository focus has been led by an experience Nashville based manager who joined the bank. 

New options such as remote deposits and a wide variety of electronic depository service negates the need to visit the bank.  Also included is fraud protection and tools not offered by many banks.

A key feature of the people expansion at FNBMT is bringing people with experience at other banks on board in key positions to ensure that FNBMT can incorporate best practices and products of other banks into the FNBMT product line up.  Seven of the management team reporting directly to president Pieter van Vuuren have external banking experience at banks ranging from smaller community banks to larger institutions.  FNBMT has 13 locations in McMinnville, Rutherford County, Shelbyville, Nashville, and a title company in Smyrna. The Nashville metro market has generated the highest growth - $240 million in loans and $140 million in deposits.

Pieter van Vuuren advises that FNBMT has a very strong wealth advisory department, the only trust department, and two title companies. The bank has added a customer experience coordinator that will be focused on enhancing the experience of all customers and employees.  

FNBMT also boosts excellent technology and local decision makers. I asked Pieter why people would want to work for FNBMT. He stated competitive compensation, great benefits, company growth record, open door policy, and opportunities for promotion. He stated that to enhance employee engagement, once a month he meets with 12-15 employees on a rotating basis for a breakfast to collaborate on what could be done to improve operations at the bank. Employee communications is emphasized.  

I asked Pieter and vice president of human relations/ marketing Anne Vance what core values were most important in selecting new hires. They responded candidates being personable, a team player, accountability, and keeping things in confidence.  

FNBMT was instrumental in helping Warren County businesses with securing a PPP loan during the COVID relief era. They facilitated $16.3 million in 215 loans – a difference maker.  

FNBMT employees are actively engaged in volunteerism across Warren County. This is emphasized. Employee development is offered through Tennessee Bankers and other training options.  

The executive staff at FNBMT is as follow:

• Pieter van Vuuren – President and CEO

• Katie Bennett – Executive V.P., Commercial Lender and Loan Operations

• John Morse – Executive V.P., Commercial Lender & Davidson County Market  Leader

• Scott Uselton – Executive V.P., Enterprise Risk Officer

• Michael Weeter – Executive V.P., Chief Operations Officer, Network Admin.

• Brian Wilcox – Executive V.P., Commercial Lender & Rutherford County Market Leader

BRAC congratulates this investment in people at First National Bank. They have a most impressive growth record over the last two years. This is the oldest company in McMinnville with aggressive growth. Expanding customer services is a formula for success.