Bank On It

By Hannah Wallace March 31, 2005

Kansas-based Gold Bank, founded over a century ago for small-town agricultural lending, entered the Sarasota/Manatee market by purchasing American Bank in 2000. Sherman Titens, senior vice president and director of marketing for parent company Gold Banc, discussed Gold Bank's local plans.

1. Prior to the purchase of American Bank, Gold Bank's operations were all in the Midwest; what brought you here?

The Florida banking market was growing faster than any other market in the country. Gold Bank could export its business banking concept to Florida and import from American Bank its personal banking concept. For example, Jerry Neff, the president in Florida, is the corporate executive in charge of all personal banking and wealth management services for the whole company, and Carol Uberti, also based in Bradenton, is the national director of branch operations.

2. What are Gold Bank's plans for expansion here?

We expect to open at least three locations a year for the next three years, from Tampa to Port Charlotte. We are willing to build from the ground up or by acquisition. Right now, we are building a branch at Fruitville and Cattlemen, and we have a letter of intent to open a branch on Clark Road. High on our target list is Lakewood Ranch, and we are looking in Englewood.

3. In this market, six of Gold Bank's eight offices and 80 percent of its deposits are in Manatee County. How do your growth plans for Sarasota differ from those for Manatee?

I think Sarasota might be more conducive to support a wealth management marketing thrust, but we will offer the same services in Manatee.

4. How does Gold Bank plan to exploit industry trends in this market?

People continue coming here to live, bringing their wealth and needing new banking relationships. We hope to attract them through our higher level of service. As the area grows, there will be more business opportunities and thus more opportunities to make loans. We are experts in commercial development lending and have been selected by the SBA to be an "Express Lender," so we have quite an arsenal of product to work with virtually any kind of business.

5. How will Gold Bank distinguish itself from the 40-odd other banking institutions in this market?

We offer the products of a national bank with the service of a community bank. We have local specialists in every area of financial services. To promote exceptional service, we started the "Heart of Gold" recognition program. Recently, we awarded a Heart of Gold to the manager in Ellenton, Nancy Thiers, who thwarted an attempted fraud on an elderly customer. Through recognition, investing in training, and incentives, we retain our employees longer. Most of the core from American Bank are still with us, and most of our lending officers joined us long ago. -Interviewed by Will Groben


Getting Technical

A look at the local technical institutes.

Manatee Technical Institute

Founded: 1963

Degrees offered: Post-secondary adult vocational certificates and applied technology diplomas; MTI also prepares students to pass state licensing exams and achieve industry certifications.

Tuition: between $356 and $2,136 for most programs

Number of students: 17,000

2004 Graduates: 1,205; in 2000, 1,860

Number of locations: 2 (Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch).

Number of high school enrollees in 2004: 294

Percentage of local college-bound high school graduates who attend MTI: Less than 5 percent

Number of adult graduates in 2004 in post-secondary adult vocational (technical/career preparation): 1,205; GED: 477

MTI graduates with IT skills graduated since 2000: 584

MTI graduates with health science degrees since 2000: 980

Percentage of MTI graduates who find local jobs: 81

Percentage of women students enrolled in 2005: 49

Percentage of Caucasian students enrolled in 2005: 56; African-American, 15; Hispanic, 26; Asian, 2

Average age of student in 2005: 32

Number of countries represented in the student body: 70

Number of students in typical class: 20

Student/faculty ratio: 20:1 (lecture); 6:1 (lab)

Sarasota County Technical Institute

Founded: 1967

Degrees offered: Certificate of Completion, State Licensure Eligibility

Tuition range: $319 to $5,169

Number of students: Approximately 10,000 annually

2004 Graduates: 608; in 2000, 644

Number of locations: 1 main campus, 2 extensions

Number of local high school graduates who attend SCTI in 2005: 612

Number of adult graduates in 2004: 485

Number of high school graduates in 2004: 123

Rank of nursing, EMT-paramedic and cosmetology as most popular career preparation programs: top 3

Job placement rate of SCTI graduates within local economy: 82

Percentage of women students enrolled in 2005: 46

Percentage of Caucasian students enrolled in 2005: 59; African-American, 8; Hispanic, 29

Number of countries represented at SCTI in the student body: 70

Number of students in typical class: 25

Student/faculty ratio: 22:1 and 10:1 (depending on class)

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