Abilene-based First Financial acquiring First Bank in Conroe

Three years in the making

By Catherine Dominguez

Abilene-based First Financial Bankshares will acquire First Bank in Conroe for $59 million.

Officials with the banks jointly made the announcement Wednesday.

The acquisition will expand First Financial’s footprint into Conroe, Magnolia, Montgomery, Cut and Shoot, Willis and The Woodlands – all in Montgomery County, where First Bank has been a valued community business for 30 years.

According to F. Scott Dueser, chairman, president and CEO of First Financial, First Bank is a perfect fit for his company.

“We go out and pick really good banks with great management,” Dueser said. “That says a lot about Sam (Baker) and his team he has built here. It is a very well run bank that we don’t have to go replace management and we don’t have to replace people.

“We will let Sam run the bank like Sam has run the bank.”

sam

Baker has been president of First Bank for 15 years and has been involved in the banking industry for nearly 40 years.

Dueser said the acquisition, which is expected to be complete by the third quarter of the year, will allow the new locations in Montgomery County to offer larger loans and new banking technology to customers.

“It’s a win-win for us,” Baker said of the acquisition.

Baker said First Bank has 106 employees and there will be no change in the staff or benefits for employees. He said the bank will continue to have its presence in the community, such as the bank’s involvement in the Montgomery County Fair and Rodeo auction.

Three years in the making

Baker said First Financial contacted him about three years ago with an interest in purchasing First Bank. At that time, Baker said, he wasn’t ready to make the move. However, he along with his 11-member board agree now is the time.

“We felt it was time for us to take the step to the next level,” Baker said. “I don’t think we would have sold to just anybody. It had to be somebody that was a good fit for the community and understood how we like to support the community and how we like to service people.

“We found a partner here that does all of it just like we do. They believe in the same thing and have the very same priorities.”

First Bank of Conroe was chartered on May 8, 1985, as an independent community bank. The bank’s first location, with only four employees, was on Loop 336 North in Conroe. In 2012, the company dropped “of Conroe” from its name due to the expansion into Huntsville, The Woodlands and Tomball markets. Today, the bank has eight locations across the county and into Harris County with total assets of $383 million.

The bank specializes in mortgage and interim construction lending and has about 10 percent of the market share in Conroe.

Dueser said First Bank’s history and philosophy aligns with First Financial.

“Our strategy is to be around a big city,” Dueser said. “When you are around the big cities, you get the growth factor. We want to be the top bank outside the market.

“Conroe fits very well into that footprint of starting to ring around Houston.”

First Financial has 62 locations in Texas. The company is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol FFIN.

Dueser said Baker, who has served as president of First Bank since 2000, will continue at the helm of the bank. Baker added he is eyeing expansion in the future.

“We have some strategic real estate,” said Baker, adding he is considering a new building in Montgomery and a new branch off Sawdust Road near the Grand Parkway.

The future, he said, is bright.

“We are excited,” Baker said. “Our bank will continue to have the same friendly people and commitment to being involved in the community but with the added resources of a highly respected, larger banking organization.”

(http://www.yourhoustonnews.com)
Posted in News on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 6:27 pm.
For immediate release
FIRST FINANCIAL BANKSHARES TO ACQUIRE CONROE BANK
For More Information: F. Scott Dueser, President, CEO & Chairman of First Financial Bankshares, Inc., 325.627.7155

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