Still Strong, Local, & Focused on the Future
In 1927, the late D.K. Hollis, Sr. realized his dream of chartering a new financial institution. The bank was called Citizens Bank of Hahira, with Citizens Bank of Morven as a branch of the Hahira bank. A change in branch banking laws later that same year would cause Hollis to re-charter the bank as Citizens Bank of Morven. During this time, a group of Atlanta investors took over the Hahira bank, and they subsequently folded during the Great Depression while the Morven bank survived.
The newly chartered Citizens Bank of Morven had assets of $41,244 in 1927. The bank continued to prosper, and years later, Hollis, Sr. moved the headquarters from Morven back to Hahira. He managed the bank’s growth to over $1.3 million before he passed away in 1960. Little did he know that his dream in 1927 would continue to grow in financial strength and community impact well into the next century.
The late D.K. Hollis, Jr. was twenty-three when his father died in 1960, but he had worked in the family bank for several years, earning his business degree from the University of Georgia, and becoming Mayor of Hahira. “I was too young to even get scared,” Hollis, Jr. said about his father’s passing. He was named President of the bank in when his father died, and he placed his political opportunities aside to focus on the bank that his father had started so long ago.
Since its beginnings 94 years ago, Citizens Community Bank has grown its assets to $175 million, with two branches in Valdosta (North Valdosta Road and Baytree Road), a branch in Morven, and headquarters in Hahira. The name was changed to Citizens Community Bank in the 1980’s to reflect its growing presence within Lowndes and Brooks Counties.
A third generation Hollis, Starling H. Waldron joined the bank in 2003 as controller and has risen to be the bank’s Chairman of the Board & Chief Financial Officer. “It has been an amazing opportunity to come back to Hahira and work with my father and learn the banking business directly from him. I have learned that it is not always about making a profit, but about being fair to the customer. I think every employee at our bank feels this way as well,” Waldron said. Executive management now consists of Star Waldron, Chairman of the Board & Chief Financial Officer, Glenn Copeland, Chief Executive Officer, and Tim Jones, President.
While the bank offers traditional bank accounts, ACH originations, Remote Deposit Capture, and Internet/Mobile Banking as some of its products, management’s philosophy continues to place more emphasis than ever on good old-fashioned personal service. Loan requests are reviewed and approved by a local loan committee, and quick response time is a priority. Bank customer service representatives are always available for attending personally to whatever the customer requests, and they take pride in earning trust and building relationships that last a lifetime.
“This loyalty among the staff has translated into a bank that now serves five generations of customers. I came from a big bank environment where it was becoming harder to bank my customers the way they deserved to be banked. I have thoroughly enjoyed the years that I have had to do business the way our true community bank operates,” said CEO Copeland.
“In a time where most banks are distancing themselves from the customer through technology, we feel that our high touch personal service sets us apart from the competition. The bank will continue to be competitive with technology driven services, but we feel that our niche is what D.K. Hollis, Sr. started in 1927, and it is timeless: provide good customer service, products at a fair price, and always try to exceed the customer’s expectation,” said President Jones.
Our bank has seen good times and bad as have all banks. We have survived the throws of the "Great Depression" beginning in 1929, just two years after opening. Most recently, it endured the biggest downturn in banking and the ecomony as a whole during our lifetime. The bank's capital strength and the strong staff assembled over the years propelled it through these tough times and made it even stronger.