George Gleason, chairman and CEO of the Bank of the Ozarks, took a break to talk with the press by phone from his hotel room in Gainesville June 21st during a week the bank’s entire board of directors spent touring recently acquired Georgia facilities.
The Bank of the Ozarks, which began in 1903 in Jasper, Arkansas, has added 30 branches in Georgia to their Little Rock based operation through a series of FDIC acquisitions of failed banks. Included in those was Chestatee State Bank with its Marble Hill (Foothills) office.
Gleason said Georgia now accounts for roughly one-third of Bank of the Ozarks operations with 300 of its 1,100 employees in Georgia. He said the week-long series of bank tours and meetings gave directors firsthand knowledge of the business climate in Georgia – a state where they are planning aggressive acquisition and expansion.
Gleason has been chairman and CEO of Bank of the Ozarks since1979, when, as a 25-year-old attorney, he bought a controlling interest in the bank which at that time had a handful of employees and $28 million in assets.
In 1994 the Bank of the Ozarks, (a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, symbol OZRK) began expansion throughout the Southeast. It now has locations in Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.
Gleason said he considered it important that his entire board spend time in Georgia to understand what he called the environment for “aggressive expansion.”
Read more about what Mr. Gleason had to say in this week's print edition.