In many ways, stepping through the doors of The First National Bank of Mount Dora can give you the impression that you’re caught between eras. It has the modern, forward-thinking air of a powerful financial institution, but unlike many banks that have sought to shed any trace of yesteryear, FNB’s history and traditions are still noticeably alive. Thanks to its fiercely loyal Board of Directors, FNB still manages to feel like a humble hometown bank, silently conveying the message that, while financial matters are serious business, people are meant to remain neighbors and friends.
Certainly FNB has evolved throughout the years, embracing modern technologies and services that provide customers round-the-clock access to their money, superior growth, protection, and investment options. Yet the modernism remains tempered by the bank’s stalwart dedication to its own customs.
“The word evolution and FNB are somewhat contradictory as FNB is still much of what it was when it was originally opened in the 20s, with bankers personally serving customers.” Says Vice President and Loan Officer Bill Brooks.
Maintaining its history has been instinctive because FNB’s oversight has been passed from one generation to the next, beginning with bank President, George J. White Sr. who manned the helm when the community bank trust department began its metamorphosis into a full-service bank back in 1965. He was succeeded by George White Jr. Current President John (Jack) D. Pease took the reins in 1982. Present Vice Chairman of the Board, Executive Vice President, and Trust Officer, C. Edward Brooks joined the bank’s trust department in 1972 and guided FNB from assets of approximately $2 million to nearly $400 million.
Jack Pease plans to eventually transfer the stewardship to Bob White, who will become the White family’s third generation of FNB presidents. Furthering another bloodline succession within the bank, Jack’s son John Pease IV will take over the bank’s trust department shortly thereafter.
Bob is pleased by FNB’s ability to merge the technological advances of today with the personal dedication associated with his grandfather’s era.
“We remain steadfast as a community bank, adding various products and services as needed based on market trends,” says Bob. “But through all of the changes one thing has remained the same–our commitment to excellence in customer service.”
By remaining committed to its historical traditions and mission, FNB has evolved into a bank that is notably unconventional. Its trust department, for example, has three certified investment advisors and six trust officers providing a full scope of services, including trusts, estate management, guardianships, custodies, managing agencies, pension and profit sharing, IRAs, and escrows.
More than just serving customers, FNB serves as Trustee of Funds for the Mount Dora Community Trust, a non-profit organization established in 1972 to support community activities and charitable organizations. The bank also contributes to and participates in myriad organizations throughout the local counties, including the Florida Hospital Foundation; the Central Florida Health Alliance; Take Stock in Children;the Cornerstone Hospice Foundation; the Mount Dora, Eustis, Leesburg and Apopka Chambers of Commerce; and many others. The collective mission among the FNB officers and staff is not simply to provide financial and investment services, but to promote community growth, security, and prosperity.
“Personal wealth and security work and feel infinitely better when you live in a community that is prospering as well,” says John Pease.
The bank’s uniqueness of purpose shows in some of the novel services it continues to offer, many of which are conveniences that the modern age has forgotten.
“We continue to offer many classic services other banks don’t, including an after-hours depository, a U.S. Mail deposit service, drive-in facilities, extended banking hours, next-day in-house check printing, and U.S. Savings Bonds,” says Senior Executive Vice President C. Haywood Gordon. Of course we also offer the best modern enhancements, too, including check/debit cards, consumer and business Internet banking, an automated voice response system, mobile banking services, merchant capture services, HSAs, a regional ATM network, Treasury Direct assistance, and personal securities purchases.”
The First National Executive Team (L-R): John D. Pease IV, C. Haywood Gordon, John (Jack) D. Pease III, E. Edward Brooks III, and Robert D. White
So how does FNB feel at 85, at a crossroads between the urgency of modern-day demands and the good old-fashioned hand-shaking relationships it has shared with customers throughout the decades? Just fine.
“We are a bank whose products and services have evolved in line with the banking industry as a whole,” says Brooks. “The major changes I’ve seen are all related to technology, with the most prominent being the ability to bank online. Commercial customers have benefited from having the ability to make deposits electronically through our merchant capture services. But ultimately, I think the best product our bank offers is still the people behind the bank. Nothing replaces dedication, involvement, consideration, and friendly service. Progress is wonderful, but at First National Bank we never want to progress beyond treating each other and our customers like friends.”
First National Bank of Mount Dora may be a pinnacle example of the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It is a philosophy the people of FNB are proud to uphold.
First National Bank