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Pike National Bank sees opportunity in Lincoln County

Richard Furr believes it’s not the bank but the banker that creates successful customer relationships. That’s why he left a position with an established Brookhaven bank to lead Pike National Bank’s first foray into Lincoln County.

Furr is city president, Brookhaven, of Pike National’s branch office that opened in Brookhaven in March. At age 48, he’s already spent 26 years in banking. He has worked for several banks, including an earlier stint with Pike National, a community bank founded in McComb in 1986.

“I told them if they ever came to Brookhaven, I wanted to work with them,” he said, “and now they’re here and I’m with them.”

That decision was based on the philosophy of Pike National’s founder Joe Sones. “No bank I ever worked for caters to the average working guy. No one is paying attention to them,” Furr said. “Joe Sones has built his bank on marketing to those people and has been successful.”

He says the Brookhaven branch, located on bustling Brookway Boulevard, is in its infancy and developing as it goes. However, he is pleased with its success. Deposits are growing and loans are already approaching $7 million.

“That’s because of old customers coming to us. They’ve found us,” he said. “At this point, it’s mostly word of mouth.”

The new bank’s early success is also due to the team that came to Pike National with Furr, he says. That includes Jason Furr (no relation), Sandy Dunaway and Margarette Roberson. Each had his or her own following in the banking business.

“They’re the ones giving great service and making things happen,” he said. “It was a big decision for them to leave their jobs and join this bank, too. I’m appreciative of them, and I get out of the way and let them do their jobs.”

Future plans

Plans call for two more locations in Brookhaven as soon as possible; hopefully in the next 18 months, Furr said. At that time, full staffing will include 25 to 30 employees. The Brookhaven branch will continue the full range of banking services offered at other Pike National locations, but will develop its own holiday traditions along the lines of the McComb branch’s lavish Christmas decorations and Fourth of July celebration.

Although banks can not do everything that is requested of them, Furr said Pike National’s philosophy is that no matter what, every customer leaves with their dignity intact and feeling respected.

“It’s not rocket science; it’s the old Golden Rule,” Furr said. “We stress that, and I think it’s noticed by our customers.”

‘We’re flexible’

Furr likes the latitude he now has, feeling this bank is small enough to operate in the old-fashioned way. He also sees a bright future for this community bank and other community banks where each person and situation are seen differently.

“We might have to use some sandpaper to make that square peg fit in a round hole. We’re flexible,” he said. “I’ve been in some situations where I could not make decisions and I’m extremely pleased with what I’m doing now.”

A lifelong resident of Wesson, Furr attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. He earned a banking and finance degree from the University of Mississippi and a master’s from the Louisiana State University Graduate School of Banking. His dad owned a drug store in Wesson where the younger Furr learned about service-oriented business. He followed his older brother into banking and has not regretted that decision.

When not working, he enjoys playing golf, fishing, woodworking, cooking and traveling with wife Robin, and daughters Abby and Perry.

Furr’s community involvement includes service on the State Workforce Investment Board, member and past president of Kiwanis of Brookhaven and active membership in the Chamber of Commerce and the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Foundation board of directors.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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