Sterling Bank Expands Its Reach to the St. Louis Jewish Community
The year was 2004. Big banks were having more than their share of financial woes, and small community banks were faced with the prospect of either selling out or fading away. Yet that did not deter Kenneth Poteet, who not only founded a bank in that year, but rose to profitability in his first three months.
Today, Sterling Bank ranks in the top one percentile of de novo banks nationwide, and is the most successful in a five-state region. In fact, Sterling Bank grew an astounding 35 percent in 2011, and is one of the top five performing banks overall in the State of Missouri. Now, with its sponsorship of www.jewishinstlouis.org, the bank is expanding its reach to the Jewish community, and welcomes everyone to explore the Sterling Bank experience.
So exactly how has Chairman and CEO Poteet guided Sterling Bank to these heights in such a short time, not to mention in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns our nation has experienced? It all started with a vision that has guided Poteet and the entire bank team from its early inception in Poplar Bluff to its opening in the resort town of Van Buren, MO, to its 2009 establishment in a highly visible Clayton location at 50 S. Bemiston Ave., just south of Forsyth.
Poteet isn’t your typical banker, and neither are his banks nor his clientele. After receiving a degree in banking from SMU in 1987, he quickly learned that his vision of banking was relationship-oriented, building his clientele one person at a time. Still today, you won’t find him behind an imposing desk, but rather sitting in comfortable chairs with his clients overlooking a magnificent view of Downtown Clayton. He not only puts people at ease, but helps them realize his commitment to them as individuals.
That approach has led him to a growing roster of mostly high-wealth clients, who turn to Sterling Bank for its expertise in every aspect of trading tax-credits. In addition, the bank offers highly competitive rates for checking and savings accounts, Sterling Money Market Accounts, Sterling Silver Money Market Accounts, certificates of deposits, IRAs and health savings accounts.Poteet’s style also comes naturally to his carefully assembled board of directors and his salaried team of employees, who share his entrepreneurial spirit and his contention that “there are enough mediocrities out there. We know that ‘good’ isn’t good enough. We want to be the best at what we do.”
That personalized approach with the finest in service seems a rarity in an age when banking has gone more and more online. Indeed, Sterling Bank has some of the most distinctive physical facilities around – facilities that reflect the bank’s commitment to the nostalgia and solidity of the past, to its state-of-the art and customized service to its current upscale clientele, coupled with an essential look toward the future.
In fact, the original Sterling Bank in Poplar Bluff has won architectural awards, and all three banks have intriguing elements that “pay homage to the past, the present and the future,” according to Poteet.
Walk into the lobby of the Clayton bank, and you immediately see an eye-catching set of decorative security gates, culled from an early Arizona farming estate at the turn of the 20th century. Then there’s the antique Phillips gas pump that sits behind the tellers area. All that’s not to mention the amazing sofa that caught Poteet’s eye on a visit to New York – only one of four ever made, it’s constructed of 3,687 silver half dollars.
Yet with all the tributes to the past, the bank is surprisingly contemporary, showing the blend that has brought it so much success so quickly. The original Poplar Bluff bank does the same. In fact, the design was born during a conversation about the retro ballparks like Busch Stadium that beautifully combine the best elements of yesterday and today. Its sterling silver-wrapped dome and bubbling fountains continue to attract attention, without being ostentatious. Whether in Poplar Bluff or Clayton, you will find facilities that simply state that the bank is solid, successful, unique and welcoming.