SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Mark Harrington: We’re in good markets, so the areas we serve, their economies have been doing well. Everyone that’s involved in that does well, too. We had good economic tailwinds. We’re a bank; we lend money for projects. Good economy, low-rate environment that was favorable for business expansion and ability to attract talent that has brought their book of business, their connections with them when they come – those are what I would say the basics are for us.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Harrington: One of the hardest things is to focus on a handful of new opportunities and really dive into those and do them well. One of the risks of growth is to try to do too many new things at once. We set our main objectives six months at a time and set the key results up and assign responsibilities to try to keep us from doing so.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Harrington: Our growth over the previous 12 months was probably about 50%, and 50% growth is likely not sustainable. We had the opportunity, we had plenty of capital and we had the right people, so we were able to do more. That growth came pretty easily, but we could not grow that much every year. It was sustainable because of the nature of that growth we took on, mainly in the lending portfolio. But I don’t see us growing 50% again probably for a long time, unless it would be from an acquisition.
SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too quickly? And if so, where is that tipping point?
Harrington: The banking problems that popped up in the last (few months) are evidence of extremely fast growth. The growth came quickly, it came easily, but no one did a premortem. No one said, what is the bad thing that could happen? In this case, what if interest rates go up double in a nine-month period? I’m sure there are a lot of people wishing they had not grown like they had. For us, the tipping point we can see is because of the depth of our financials we measure, and all banks do. I guess I’d say we have early warning systems.
SBJ: Have OMB’s goals changed amid the growth?
Harrington: We are moving into a new metro area. If that works like we think it will, then that can be a template for moving into other metro areas. There’s a couple where we already do a fair amount of business. Once you hit a certain area, it’s easier to get bigger from there. Opportunities for us would be other markets.
SBJ: What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Harrington: No matter what your job in banking, from the drive-thru window to the board room, behave as if you own the company. I think for people building careers, when your supervisor, your manager sees that you’re putting the company’s interest where it should be and that you are a good steward of your time and your company’s resources as if you are the owner, then that’s a great way to build a career.
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.