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VOL. 132 | NO. 172 | Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tri-State Hosts Grand Opening of Banking HQ

By Andy Meek

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Tri-State Bank CEO Thomas Felder estimates that the more than 70-year-old institution – which has shifted its retail bank headquarters from Downtown to Whitehaven – will have a $2.5 million economic impact on the neighborhood surrounding it.

Part of that estimate comes from the bank having made a capital investment in Whitehaven of more than $1 million, Felder told civic and public leaders gathered Tuesday, Aug. 29, for a formal unveiling of Tri-State’s new headquarters.

It’s the start of a major new chapter for the bank that today has assets of more than $111 million, three locations and more than 40 employees. And it continues a storied legacy.

Dr. J.E. Walker and his son, A. Maceo Walker, founded Tri-State Bank after World War II. The elder Walker had also founded Universal Life Insurance Co. in 1923, a cornerstone with Tri-State of black finance and capital in Memphis.

Tri-State Bank gave the public a look at its new headquarters in Whitehaven Tuesday, Aug. 29, as the bank hosted a grand opening of the space at 4606 Elvis Presley Blvd. (Daily News/Andy Meek)

In the 1980s, the bank provided funding to save the Lorraine Motel from demolition. A musician from Collins Chapel CME Church – one of Tri-State Bank’s longtime customers – was on hand Tuesday to entertain attendees at the bank’s new headquarters at 4606 Elvis Presley Blvd. Tri-State is establishing its operations center, including back-office functions, in a building at 1407 Union Ave.

Tri-State Bank is a beacon in our community,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland told guests.

Bank officials said the Whitehaven presence is a reflection of the bank embracing its duality – respectful of its history and the community it has historically served, while understanding a bank today needs to embrace change.

Tri-State, for example, is following a business model based around what Felder described as “organic growth.” The new retail bank headquarters will include the presence of so-called universal bankers, a category of bank employee that’s become somewhat ubiquitous across the industry.

It refers to employees who can help customers with almost anything, somewhat concierge-style, rather than banking in an earlier time that revolved around tellers, simple transactions and long lines.

“As the world changes,” said Tri-State board chair Lucy Shaw Henderson, “we have to change to address the markets we exist in.”

She said that as Tri-State remains in the midst of one of the most eventful periods in its recent history.

Along with the 70th anniversary last year, it got new leadership one year ago this month when Felder became CEO. The bank also sold its headquarters on South Main at Beale Street as well as 88,000 shares of preferred stock to First Tennessee Bank.

Felder said the bank has been focused on adding and shoring up key product offerings and services that modern bank customers expect, like mobile banking and remote deposit capture. Meanwhile, it’s looking to make a big impact in Whitehaven, with the $1 million invested in the new headquarters having gone to what Felder said are exclusively local vendors.

The bank’s name, he stressed, has also not changed in its seven-decade history, implying that its focus to the community won’t, either.

PROPERTY SALES 103 137 4,008
MORTGAGES 84 131 4,521
BUILDING PERMITS 178 368 9,636
BANKRUPTCIES 50 110 2,995