Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s enterprise, First National Bank & Trust Co. (FNB), is pleased to announce its President Larry Briggs was inducted into the 50-Year Club at the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s 2018 Leadership Forum and Annual Convention for his five decades of banking industry service. Briggs, who joined FNB in 1994, was also honored with the 2018 Chairman’s Award for his extraordinary leadership over the past year for the OBA.
When Briggs graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1968, becoming a banker was not something that had occurred to him. In fact, he said it was not even on his radar. However, Dwight Rymer, who owned Citizens State Bank in Morrison, Oklahoma, saw something in Briggs and encouraged him to go into the banking business that year.
“Mr. Rymer sent me to banking schools, taught me and mentored me,” Briggs said. “He gave me the opportunity to become a chief executive officer at an early age with very little experience. He had faith in me.”
Rymer was a World War II veteran who, upon coming home from serving his country, became a vocational agriculture teacher. He eventually bought the tiny bank in Morrison and became an agricultural education teacher on Friday and a banker on Monday, bringing Larry Briggs on board to work with him.
They learned the banking business together, but the lessons Rymer taught about serving and understanding people proved to be most beneficial to Briggs — lessons he continues to use to this day.
“Dwight had an uncanny ability to relate to people, so as we would interact with customers and the community, he would convey insights and ways I could better communicate with those we were serving,” Briggs said.
Briggs stayed with Citizens State Bank in Morrison until 1972 when he began working at the Stillwater National Bank in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 1975, he became president and CEO of First National Bank & Trust Co. in Holdenville where he served until 1991. Under Briggs’ leadership, the bank and its holding company increased from $24 million to $120 million in a depressed economic environment. He also implemented the holding company, insurance agency and ag-credit company, saving stockholders millions of dollars in taxes. Additionally, he managed the acquisition of a bank, and a savings and loan, negotiating $4.5 million in loan guaranties from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and spearheaded 17 years of continued earnings.
Upon leaving FNB Holdenville, Briggs worked with other banking institutions and financial service corporations until he joined First National Bank & Trust Co. in Shawnee in 1994 where he still serves today. Since becoming the CEO, he is credited with increasing the loan volume by 250 percent and the bank’s overall volume by 350 percent while maintaining excellent credit quality. He has initiated new programs to enhance profitability, customer care and the bank’s community volunteer program as well as strategies to embrace technological advances, a social presence, and products and services that meet the needs of the customers at every age and stage of life.
When asked what he has loved most about working in banking, Briggs reminisced about his relationship with a long-time customer.
“I went to the funeral of a long-time customer and good friend the other day,” Briggs said. “Approximately 20 years ago, this gentleman came to see me and asked me for a loan because he had been asked to leave the bank with which he was currently associated.”
He said the potential customer had a good idea of what he wanted to accomplish. His business plan was
well written, and he had an excellent work history.
“I knew I was going out on a limb, but I made him the loan. Well, his business plan worked, and he became extremely successful, growing a business that made him a tremendous amount of money,” he said. “The story could have ended there, but it didn’t. The success of his business provided this man the opportunity to fund many charities and start two drug rehabilitation organizations. He frequently gave second and third chances to people who needed them most, likely because he had been given one.”
The day of the funeral, the church was completely full of friends, family and many of those who received his help throughout the years, Briggs said.
“This is one of the reasons I love banking. I was privileged to play a small role in helping this man become successful so that he could pay it forward and impact more lives than he could have imagined,” Briggs said. “I’m grateful I was able to help a customer, but I’m more grateful that I made a life-long friend and watched how we bankers can become difference-makers in the lives of people.”
Not only has Briggs worked in banking for 50 years, he is also an advocate and innovator for the industry. He graduated from Southern Methodist University’s Southwestern Graduate School of Banking program in Dallas, Texas, and eventually began teaching courses for the program. He has also served in leadership roles on committees for both the American Bankers Association and the Oklahoma Bankers Association. He was recently appointed to the prestigious Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council.
Living out his favorite quote from Zig Ziglar — “The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty” — Briggs has a strong commitment to his profession and the industry he has served for 50 years. He has a heart for the communities and state where he has lived and worked as well as the
people he served.
He gives of his time and expertise to better organizations and communities, whether through the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or serving as a board member at Seminole State College, Oklahoma Baptist University, or numerous other museums and foundations. He is also a board member of the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals.
Additionally, Briggs champions volunteerism with his employees in the communities served by FNB. In 2017, his leadership garnered more than 4,900 employee volunteer hours given to over 100 nonprofit organizations in Shawnee, Holdenville, Lawton, Mangum and Granite.
Briggs is a licensed private pilot and OSU Cowboys fan in his spare time, and a husband, father, and grandfather who credits his wife as the most influential person in his life. “Michelle has been my best friend, staunchest supporter, encourager and influencer,” he said. For the past 50 years, Briggs has also been a friend and supporter of banking, influencing the profession that chose him so many years ago.