By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Austin Bank held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, April 25, to celebrate the opening of its new branch in Cleveland. The bank is temporarily located in an office suite at 901 E. Houston St., next to Cleveland Healthcare Center, however plans are under way to build a new bank facility on the adjacent property within the next 12-15 months.
The Cleveland branch will be operated by Mike Penry and Tasha Childress, who have a combined 60-plus years in banking. Penry previously was the vice president of First Bank and Trust in Cleveland and Childress is the former manager of Prosperity Bank in Cleveland.
Austin Bank is family-owned and operated by the Austin family of Jacksonville, Texas. The Austin family has been in the banking industry since 1909. Since that time, Austin Bank has grown to 33 locations, Cleveland being the most recent.
When asked why Cleveland was picked as a site for a new bank, Austin Bank Board Chairman Jeff Austin Jr. said it was the next logical step as Austin Bank continues to march down US 59 toward Houston. The bank’s next closest location to Houston along US 59 is its Lufkin branch.
“The secret to the success of any bank is personnel. We found there were some personnel available who knew Cleveland, so it was the right time for us to be here,” Austin said. “We feel like Cleveland is our kind of town. We are from small towns in east Texas. Cleveland is a small town but it’s right on the edge of Houston and a lot of things are happening here. You can see that just by driving around.”
Small-town banking will be a good fit for Cleveland, he added, with customers and bankers working together for the betterment of the community.
“If you grow, we grow. That is the most important thing. We are not going to be successful as a bank unless the people in this community are successful. We are planning to be here for the long haul,” Austin said.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony began at the branch office on E. Houston St. Afterward the celebration continued at Cleveland Civic Center where guests were treated to hors d’oeuvres and were given a glimpse of the future Cleveland branch.