McLanahan Family History


rhodes mclanahan

First American Bank and Trust Company has had a long history of serving the Athens community. The bank’s history is deeply intertwined with one Athens family in particular: the McLanahans. Clarence McLanahan made his first investment in what was then known as Hubert State Bank in 1953. In 1962, Mr. McLanahan and a group of local investors acquired controlling interest in the Bank from Mr. Hubert’s daughter who was then serving as president of the Bank. In 1963, the name of the banking enterprise was changed to First American Bank and Trust Company. Mr. McLanahan served as the Bank’s chairman of the board until his death in 2000. Mr. McLanahan was a key member of the banking community in Athens during his time as chairman, and was instrumental in forming the Independent Bankers Association of Georgia in 1969, now known as the Community Bankers Association of Georgia.

John McLanahan, Sr., son of Mr. McLanahan, followed closely in his father’s footsteps. While practicing law in Atlanta with the firm of Troutman Sanders, John Sr. began commuting to Athens to work with First American in the late 1960s as a member of the Bank’s executive committee and also serving as the Bank’s vice-chairman of the board. He moved to Athens full time in the 1970s, and succeeded his father as chairman of the board in 2000, a position that he held until his death in 2013.

John Sr.’s sons, John Jr. and Rhodes, now represent the third generation of McLanahans to work at First American. Rhodes has worked for the Bank for the past 17 years, previously as the chief operating officer. He now serves as the president and chief executive officer of First American. John Jr. started

working for the Bank while in college during the late 1980s. He returned to First American in 2010 to serve as the Bank’s general counsel and chief compliance officer and was elected as chairman of the board in 2015.

Banking with heart comes easily at First American, in part due to the long family history here. We understand the importance of family, so we strive to treat all our customers with the same respect.

john mc author

Customer Service with Heart

What does customer service mean to you? There are basic components to customer service that we all expect from a professional business person: acknowledge the customer, give them a smile, and wish them a good day. These base-level practices are expected, and can be performed without inflection by anyone. Truly valuable customer service is something genuine that comes from within and is very difficult to train.

Providing genuine service means truly caring about how we represent ourselves and the company we serve. This type of pride and ownership can power an associate through any kind of bad day, because it is not about the individual, but the impression that is created of the company. When you love the company you work for, it is easy to keep pushing forward and finding out how to make basic customer service exceptional.

We work hard every day to make good customer service great. All of our employees get to know our customers and create a welcoming environment for them. We know many of our clients by name and build relationships with customers to help them feel secure that they are known and will be treated with respect. This respect for the customers we serve creates an empathy that drives us to take on whatever life problems they may be facing. This is where the core conviction of "heart" comes into play. When

you really care and feel for the people you serve, you take on their troubles and work toward their goals as if they were your own—that is a kind of heart that can't be faked.

This workplace pride, familiarity, respect, and heart forms a synergetic approach to banking that helps both the bank and the customer community. When this happens, associates are self-driven to solve problems and to work to improve the lives of our customers.

wes real author

A Year in Review: FABT’s 88th Birthday

First American’s 88th birthday is coming up on July 2nd, so we’re taking a look back at our year. It’s been eventful!

Summer 2015: First American formed its first-ever marketing team to bring social media, this very blog, and other marketing to our customers.

July 2015: The First American family was saddened to lose a team member, Miss Janey Cooley, when she passed away on July 27. She was a wonderful part of the family who embodied our core convictions to a T, and while we were sad to say goodbye, we’re glad for the time she spent with us.

September 2015: We launched our social media presence, bringing us one step closer to the people and the towns we love to work with!

Fall 2015: Our fall fundraising campaign for United Way of Northeast Georgia raised over $18,500.

November 2015: We had our annual Thanksgiving Employee Lunch, showing our gratitude for First American and the talented, hardworking employees we get to work with.

December 2015: Our annual Christmas Party was (as always) a huge hit and allowed all of us to celebrate the calendar year together before parting ways for a quick holiday break. We were proud to present our President’s Award to Susan McWhorter and our Community Involvement Award to Abby Bryant.

January 2016: Our President and CEO, Bobby Heath, stepped down into semi-retirement (he’s still here, working hard!) and Rhodes McLanahan took the mantle as our new President and CEO. We commemorated Bobby’s time at the helm of FABT with a children’s book, Bobby Goes to the Bank, about the importance of saving to honor his contributions to Wee Read, a local charity encouraging a love of reading in children. This was a win-win; we still get to enjoy Mr. Heath’s company, but continue to enjoy the transition to Mr. McLanahan’s leadership!

February: New year, new tradition: we had a lot of fun with the inauguration of our internal cornhole and Jenga tournaments, which have instilled some friendly competition and very worthy champions!

March 2016: Our March Mobile Madness campaign rewarded every 100th person to make a deposit from their mobile FABT app.

Spring 2016: We were happy to welcome a few new hires to our FABT family, all focused on our expansions in Gwinnett County. We also enjoyed running our spring fundraising campaign (ongoing) to benefit local Habitat for Humanity chapters!

Over the course of the year, we’ve had to say goodbye to some employees and had the pleasure of welcoming new ones. We’ve become the last locally owned and operated bank headquartered in Athens, Georgia, and continued to put down roots in the community. 88 has been a good year to us! In the coming year, we’ll be continuing to work hard and support our community. Happy birthday to us!

megan author

Bobby Bank

In honor of our longtime President and CEO, Mr. Bobby Heath, stepping down from his post this year, the employees of First American wanted to say thank you. But because Mr. Heath’s service both to his bank and his community have been so extraordinary, we wanted our “thank you” to be anything but ordinary.

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To give some background on Mr. Heath, he has worked at First American since 1996, when he came here as a Senior Lending Officer. In 2002, he became our President and CEO, and at the end of 2015, he became a Business Development Officer. His community service has notably included a role as the Chair of Clarke County’s Wee Read, a program that provides every registered child from birth to five years of age with a book in the mail once a month.

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Mr. Heath’s role in Wee Read inspired us to create a book that would get kids excited about opening a bank account and learning how to save money. Thus, “Bobby Goes to the Bank” was born. The story follows the journey of Bobby, a young owl, as he tries to find his local bank and deposit ten dollars. Additionally, every child who opens an account at FABT will get a reward for their financial savvy: a Bobby Bank in which they can save up their spare coins!

Bobby Goes to the Bank will be available in local schools, doctor’s offices, and at First American branches.


A Retrospective on Good Banking
As I have been moving closer to my retirement, I have been reflecting on my experiences as a banker over the last 42 years. I have only been employed by two different financial institutions, but I have been fortunate to work with many talented bankers. I have also been able to work with hundreds of small businesses led by successful owners and managers.
One common thread of those businesses that were successful over the long run is the investment made in its employees. They made sure to hire and retain talented employees who understood the company’s mission and strategic initiatives.
Good managers always focus on the customer rather than the task. They understand that achieving strategic objectives and forging strong customer relations are more important than processes or procedures. Processes and procedures are important to manage risk, but they should not be an obstacle in developing customer relationships.
I feel very fortunate to work with the most talented group of bankers in Georgia. I also understand that the success we have enjoyed is the result of the talent, work ethic, and positive attitude of the First American team of employees. It is also the reason that we will be successful in the future. Thank you for your role in making First American the best community bank in Georgia.
Bobby Heath
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