YOUR BUSINESS AUTHORITY
Springfield Business Journal: What has been key to your recent growth?
Shaun Burke: It kind of goes back to our strategic planning well over three years ago. We had a strategic plan that called to grow through acquisitions as a publicly traded company. We have access to capital markets, and with our publicly traded stock, we tried to do acquisitions. So, our No. 1 growth factor was in 2017, when we consummated our acquisition of the Hometown Bank based out of Carthage. That bank, when we closed, it was a $180 million purchase. It’s about 18% of our total assets. It was a significant factor in recent growth, and we’ve had good organic growth, too. That comes from just our presence in Springfield. We have tremendously experienced bankers here. Being here 106 years, we’ve got a real strong presence. We really encourage our people to be engaged in the community, whether that’s civic or charitable, so we have a lot of folks on boards, serving on committees. There’s just a lot of factors that go into that organic growth.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Burke: Our No. 1 goal every day is to deliver an improved shareholder value. We’ve been able to do that. With the growth we experienced last year, the net income delivered to the shareholders was up 56% in the first quarter versus the first quarter of last year. Stock values continue to grow with the growth of the company. [Editor’s note: At press time, Guaranty Federal Bancshares Inc. stock (Nasdaq: GFED) was trading at $22.70 per share, up from $21.57 per share to start the year.] It also allows us to provide additional internal opportunities to our staff. Also, the bigger we get, it also allows us to continue to deliver a larger array of services and products to our customers.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Burke: It is sustainable. In banks, we like to say that banks are a reflection of the health of the economy that they operate in. We are extremely fortunate to be operating in southwest Missouri. Our economy historically is very strong. That growth is sustainable from that perspective. Also, we have a very experienced management and leadership team. As long as the economy stays healthy, we’ve got the opportunity to sustain that growth. But we’re very disciplined in our growth. We’re not going to grow for growth’s sake.
SBJ: Where is the tipping point?
Burke: In my 35-year career, we’ve seen the number of banks in the country go from nearly 20,000 to below 6,000. We are in a consolidating industry. We have positioned the company to take advantage of that. We’re roughly $1 billion in assets; we could easily be $2 billion in assets with the right growth and acquisitions, and we’re well-prepared to handle that. I don’t know that there really is a tipping point, but that’s said from the perspective that we know what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re not going out and trying to be a $5 billion company overnight.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received?
Burke: I’ve had people tell me that size doesn’t matter. Size does matter today from the standpoint that you need that size and scale to cover the increasing costs of technology. The competitive landscape is changing dramatically in financial services. A lot of people do all of their banking on the phone, and you can do that with companies that aren’t traditional banks.
The nonprofit moves into its new campus.