SGBC Employee Spotlight: Tonia Clark
Tonia Clark’s desire to help others is a significant factor in her role as a lender at South Georgia Banking Company. Currently a Loan Processor at our Sylvester branch, Tonia has been in banking for 24 years and has experience as a Loan Officer, Assistant Branch Manager, and Teller Supervisor.
When it comes to loan processing, Tonia says, “I love assisting customers with their financial needs by meeting them where they are and getting them to where they want to be.” She understands the day-to-day tasks of a loan processor are all part of big life moments for customers. Whether it’s qualifying for a loan to build a dream home or taking that first step as newlyweds to purchase a first home, a loan processor’s work plays a huge role in a customer’s life. Tonia said it best: “My defining moments have always been the small things; the small moments to us are sometimes huge moments to others!”
Tonia also has a big heart for her community and foster care. She chooses to give back by helping foster families through the Called to Care organization, where she is the director of the Worth County Chapter. Additionally, Tonia volunteers as a Court Appointed Speaker for Children (CASA) to help children navigate the complex foster care system.
When not at work or serving her community, Tonia’s two sons, three grands, a cat named Lucy, and her black lab, Zoe, keep her busy. She also loves to read, spend time in her garden, and find new trails to hike!
Having a team member like Tonia who takes customer service to the next level is a great example of what sets South Georgia Banking Company apart. Remember to stop by the next time you’re in Sylvester and say hello to Tonia and the rest of the team!
Community Impact: Local Businesses Benefit from PPP via SGBC
It’s no secret many businesses took a hit thanks to COVID. From completely shutting down, scaling back services, or going online to difficulties around staffing due to employees or their families testing positive, there have been no shortage of challenges faced by businesses due to COVID.
The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) offered welcome relief, but many businesses found roadblocks or a lack of engagement at their bank. Not at SGBC. Our commitment to community impact drove our team to streamline the process and work with not only our customers, but also with businesses who banked elsewhere but couldn’t get the help they needed. The result? 1,102 PPP Loans were processed by South Georgia Banking Company.
“Not only did our staff help existing business customers apply for PPP loans, they were able to assist many businesses who encountered unenthusiastic responses from their own banks,” said Sam McCard, president of South Georgia Banking Company. “I’m so proud of the way our lenders jumped in with both feet to learn how to best process PPP loans and stayed on top of the ever-changing rules and guidelines. They understood the how critical PPP assistance was to our local businesses and did everything in their power to process the applications so these people could keep the doors open.”
South Georgia Banking Company’s commitment to community impact came to full fruition during the different rounds of the PPP program. “We had the opportunity to truly serve our customers and businesses in our area by fully embracing PPP and developing an internal structure around the guidelines to meet the needs of our community.”
South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna and Sylvester. Learn more at SGBCOnline.com.
SGBC Announces Hester Memorial Scholarship Winner
Dalton Yarbrough of Cordele is the 2021 local recipient of the Julian and Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship from South Georgia Banking Company.
Dalton was chosen by a regional panel of judges who considered his impressive application highlighting academic achievements and community involvement, along with an essay submission on the role of community banking. He serves on student council, the journalism/yearbook staff and is a BETA club member. Dalton also played on the CCHS tennis team, football team and is a member of Skills USA.
A senior at Crisp County High School and dual-enrolled at Georgia Military College and South Georgia Technical, Dalton plans to continue his education at Valdosta State University in the fall. He will receive the $500 cash scholarship from South Georgia Banking Company and his application has been submitted for consideration of four Hester Memorial $1,000 scholarships chosen by the Community Banking Association (CBA).
The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship program awards $1,000 annually to four deserving high school seniors planning to attend a Georgia college, university or technical school beginning the fall semester after graduation from high school.
Allison Carter of Ashburn is the runner up for the local award and she will also be considered for the $1,000 CBA scholarship. Allison, a student at Tiftarea Academy and daughter of SGBC employee Joy Carter, submitted an outstanding academic and community accomplishments; she plans to attend ABAC in the fall.
The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship is named after long-time CBA Chief Executive Officer, the late Julian Hester and his late daughter, Jan Hester.
Jan was a senior at the University of Georgia when she died in an automobile accident in April of 1990. In addition to supporting community banking, this scholarship is an opportunity to pass on the positive qualities both Julian and Jan Hester exemplified to further the development of tomorrow’s generations.
Applications are open each spring; if you know a deserving senior in 2022, please watch for information from South Georgia Banking Company next year.
SGBC Welcomes Erika Culpepper
South Georgia Banking Company welcomes Erika Culpepper, new Senior Vice President of our 2nd Street branch in Tifton. Culpepper, who brings a wealth of banking knowledge to the SGBC team, is the latest addition the bank’s leadership team.
With over 20 years of experience in banking, Culpepper’s expertise lies in loan operations, risk management, and credit administration management. “As the bank continues to grow, I hope to make that growth seamless,” Culpepper says.
“Erika’s extensive experience and her desire to make a difference, make her a perfect fit for our organization and our customers, “ said Sam McCard, president, South Georgia Banking Company. “Our commitment is to bring staff members on board who share our vision and understand the positive impact local banking has on the communities we serve.”
Culpepper and her husband Jason have two children, Jason and Kinsey Culpepper. They attend First Baptist Church of Tifton and enjoy being a part of a family-oriented community.
Stop by our 2nd Street branch today to meet Erika and say hello to the rest of the team! Learn more about South Georgia Banking Company and our locations in Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna, and Sylvester at SGBConline.com
New Leadership Roles at South Georgia Banking Company
South Georgia Banking Company announces Board of Director position changes as well as staff promotions at the bank’s Second Street location in Tifton.
“These changes represent the bank’s commitment to growth,” said Sam McCard, SGBC’s newly appointed president. “We understand having the right people in the right positions is key to South Georgia Banking Company being a vibrant part of our communities now and in the future.”
Board of Director changes include Glenn Willis being named as chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer and Brian Ponder being named as the Vice-Chairman.
Glenn started at the bank in 1985 as cashier and has since served many roles, including most recently as president of South Georgia Banking Company. He was first appointed as a member of the board in 2017 and continues to serve the bank and community with steady leadership. Brian Ponder joined the Board of Directors in 2017 and provides valuable insight from his experience as a farmer and as a leader in the local agricultural community.
Sam McCard is the new president of South Georgia Banking Company. Sam has been in banking for 25 years and joined SGBC in 2015. He has held multiple banking positions, working his way up the ranks, beginning at 18 years old taking care of the Ashburn Bank’s lawn and maintenance jobs, before moving into lending.
“I look forward to building on the bank’s firm foundation with fresh ideas and new approaches,” said McCard. “One of my goals is to work closely with each of our bank’s city presidents to ensure we are communicating effectively with staff in each location. I want to hear ideas from our front line employees as well as those in leadership positions.”
Two additional promotions include new roles for Donna Watson and Jessica Gourley. Watson, the bank’s new executive vice-president and chief risk officer, has 34 years banking experience, nine of those years at South Georgia Banking Company. She most recently served as SGBC’s Compliance Officer, BSA Officer, and Information Security Officer. Gourley has been named the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Officer. She came to SGBC with BSA banking experience, making her a perfect fit for her new role.
South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna, and Sylvester, Georgia. Learn more at SGBConline.com
South Georgia Banking Company Marks 50 Years
Fifty years ago, in April of 1970, South Georgia Banking Company was formed in Omega, Georgia. For five decades, the bank has served communities not only as a financial institution, but as neighbor and business partner in the South Georgia region.
Since 1970, South Georgia Banking Company has strengthened its roots by creating a work environment that attracts talented people who exemplify the bank’s customer-first commitment. During that time, the bank’s footprint has also grown and now includes locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna, and Sylvester.
“The growth and stability of our bank can be attributed in large part to my Dad, Pait Willis, who led South Georgia Banking Company for 48 years before his death in 2018,” said Glenn Willis, current president and CEO. “Additionally, our board, the entire bank leadership team, and our employees through the years, have all played a significant role in the bank’s growth. Without everyone’s intentional focus to carry out our vision of extraordinary customer service, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
The 50-year milestone is no easy feat for any business, and Willis understands the challenges of not only surviving, but thriving, saying “diversity of services and remaining true to our mission of serving our communities, families, agriculture, and small businesses” is at the heart of our strength as a banking institution.
Founded in the agricultural community of Omega, the bank remains a leader in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors. Along with serving the agricultural communities in our region, businesses, individuals, and families all find a banking home at South Georgia Banking Company.
“Even while offering the latest in banking technology and online convenience, when a customer calls or comes into our bank, we want that person to feel like they’re working with a good friend,” says Willis. “We are committed to evolving as banking changes and as people’s needs change, yet always maintaining the personal connection that sets us apart. Our vision is for South Georgia Banking Company to be as strong at the 100 year mark as it is now.”
Community service has always been an important aspect of South Georgia Banking Company. “My dad led by example and was always involved on boards and with local causes. He set the tone early and today the bank remains true to calling of service,” said Willis. “As a bank we are involved with each community and strongly encourage all employees to be involved in community events and to serve on local boards.”
The onset of COVID-19 early in 2020 changed many celebrations, including the planned anniversary celebrations for South Georgia Banking Company. It did not, however, dampen the spirit of the bank nor its commitment to serving its customers.
“In a way, it’s almost fitting we faced significant challenges during the bank’s 50th year,” said Willis. “South Georgia Bank responded as we always do, by considering what is best for our employees and what is best for our customers. When you take care of those two things, you can’t go wrong.”
South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna and Sylvester. For more information, go to SGBConline.com.
SGBC Announces Retirement and Promotions
South Georgia Banking Company announces the retirement of Woody Davis, currently city president of SGBC’s headquarter location on Second Street in Tifton, Georgia. Davis, who has been with the bank since 2001 has held many positions, including branch manager, regional credit officer and city president.
“During Woody’s 20 years with our bank, he has exemplified the customer-first approach we value,” said Glenn Willis, CEO of South Georgia Banking Company. “He delivered exceptional service to the bank and to his customers. Without a doubt, he will be missed, and we wish him well in his retirement adventures.”
While Davis’ presence will be missed, SGBC is excited about the next generation of bankers who are rising to the occasion. Chris Cutts, Jared Ross, Carla Jones, and Lynne Irvin have been promoted into new leadership roles at the bank.
Chris Cutts, a senior vice president, is now city president of the bank’s Tift County locations. Cutts joined the bank’s team seven years ago and has served as a lender and a branch manager. He brings a wealth of knowledge from previous corporate experience, and the bank is excited about his new role at the company.
Jared Ross, senior vice president, is now the bank’s regional credit officer for our southern region. His experience and training with Davis will provide a solid foundation for the continuum of this position and the future of our bank.
Lynne Irvin has been promoted to branch manager of the Tift Avenue location in Tifton and Carla Jones has been promoted to branch manager of the bank’s 2nd Street location in Tifton.
Lynne, a 13 year SGBC veteran, was previously manager of the bank’s mortgage department. Her experience and expertise make her a perfect fit for the position of branch manager.
Carla’s SGBC experience includes customer service representative as well as working in the mortgage and lending arenas. Her interpersonal skills are second to none and we look forward to the leadership she will provide our team in Tifton.
Please join us in congratulating these individuals on their retirement, promotions, and advancements. South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Tifton, Omega, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna, and Sylvester. For more information go to SGBConline.com.
New Hires Keith Brown & James Mock
South Georgia Banking Company welcomes two new employees, Keith Brown and James Mock. As SGBC continues to grow, we understand the importance of having the right team members in each position throughout the bank to meet the needs of our customers.
Keith Brown is the new Vice President of South Georgia Banking Company’s Moultrie branch. Keith, an experienced consumer and commercial lender, spent five of his last twelve years focused on commercial lending. Community involvement and stellar, hometown-oriented customer service are two of Keith’s primary areas of focus as he looks forward to continuing the growth of South Georgia Banking Company.
James Mock is South Georgia Banking Company’s new Regional Ag Lender. With over 13 years in Ag Lending, James has extensive experience in all aspects of agricultural banking, including operating and equipment loans as well as real estate loans for farmers and agricultural businesses. James enjoys working day-to-day with farmers and providing value to people in agriculture with advice, insight, and meeting their borrowing needs.
“As we close out our 50th year in banking, we are looking to the future and the next 50 years,” said Glenn Willis, CEO, South Georgia Banking Company. “Our two new staff members and the contributions they will make to our customers and our bank is part of our vision for 2021 and beyond.”
SGBC Now Open in Sylvester
South Georgia Banking Company announces a new full-service location in Sylvester, Georgia. “Our temporary building at 603 N. Main Street is now open for business,” said Kevin Kicklighter, Sr. Vice President and City President, Sylvester. “The permanent location will be in a completely remodeled building at the same address.”
A ribbon cutting will be held March 3 at 11:30 am; the general public, customers, and Sylvester-Worth County Chamber of Commerce members are invited to attend and meet the SGBC Sylvester banking team.
Kicklighter, who headed the SGBC loan production in Worth County for the last year in preparation for the branch to open, says the remodeled building is going to be an exciting project. “Since the temporary location and the permanent location are on the same lot, everyone can watch our progress!” he said.
Additional staff members for the Sylvester location include familiar faces: Kathy Mims, Vice President and Consumer Lender; Gina Young, Customer Service Representative; Tonia Moore, Loan Assistant; Amanda McDonald, Head Teller and Betty Moeller, Teller.
“Growing to serve the South Georgia market with local banking services exemplifies SGBC’s commitment to the communities in our area,” said Glenn Willis, CEO and President of South Georgia Banking Company. “2020 marks 50 years since we first opened the doors in Omega, Georgia, and we couldn’t be happier that our celebration includes being in Sylvester.”
South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Tifton, Ashburn, Cordele, Moultrie, Omega, Sylvester and Vienna. To find contact information of your local branch, click here.
SGBC Announces New Directors
South Georgia Banking Company announces the additions of Matt Coley and Noel Williams, as members of the bank’s board of directors. As SGBC grows and prepares to thrive in the next decade, adding proven leaders with fresh perspectives to the leadership team is a key element to success.
“Matt and Noel each bring distinctive strengths, including long-term vision and a solid understanding of both business and agribusiness, to our team,” said Glenn Willis, President and CEO of South Georgia Banking Company. “The energy and depth of experience of these two new board members represent the core values of our bank as we move into our 50th anniversary in 2020.”
Coley, a fourth generation farmer, agribusiness owner and Vienna native, holds a B.S.A. and M.S in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia. He is also a member of the AGHON Honor Society, the highest honor a student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UGA may attain. After graduate school, he worked for Senator Chambliss as a staff member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition andForestry.
After a few years in Washington, Coley returned home to Vienna to join his family’s agribusiness and farming operation, consisting of 3500 acres of cotton and 400 acres of peanuts. The family’s cotton gin and peanut buying point, Coley Gin and Fertilizer, has been in operation since 1945. Coley has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of twenty-five “Movers and Shakers” in Georgia agribusiness and the UGA Alumni Association in its 2018 “40 Under 40” class. He currently resides in Cordele with his wife, Whitney, and their daughters, Mary Stockton and Harrison where they are members First United Methodist Church.
Williams, a Cordele native and University of Georgia graduate, is a principal with Partners Benefit Group, an insurance agency headquartered in south Georgia. Williams is also a newly elected member of Georgia’s House of Representatives, serving the citizens of Crisp, Pulaski, Wilcox, and portions of Houston County, that form House District 148. Elected Freshman Legislator of the year in June of 2019 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, he serves on the insurance committee, retirement committee and natural resources committee in the State House.
Williams is dedicated to the growth of his community and serves in multiple capacities to help impact economic growth and address challenges. In addition to previous positions as chairman of the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce and a representative for the Cordele Industrial Development Council, he currently serves as chairman of the board for the Crisp Regional Foundation, a board member for Crisp Regional Hospital, and secretary of Crisp Academy Board of Trustees. He and his wife Laura reside in Cordele with their children Trey and Elizabeth where they are members of First United Methodist Church.
Tips to Keep Your Information Safe in Recognition of National Data Privacy Day
“Cyber thieves are using social media profiles to gather personal information and use it to commit fraud,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “It’s extremely important that consumers limit the amount of information they share online and stay away from using easily retrieved information — such as birthdates, pet’s names or school mascots — as answers to security questions.”
SGBC offers the following tips to help consumers safeguard their information online:
• Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
• Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
o Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
• Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
• Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
• Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
How to Dig Out of Debt
"You can track payment due dates on a calendar or use your bank's online bill paying service," said Heather St. Germain, an FDIC senior consumer affairs specialist. "Many banks offer this service, which allows you to see all of your bills in one location online and make payments directly from your bank account."
The Importance of Credit Worthiness for Your Small Business
Why do you need a business credit score?
Separating your business and personal assets is critical. One of the key benefits that corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) provide is the protection of your personal assets. To keep this protection, it is critical that you consistently show a clear separation between yourself and your business. Establishing your small business’s credit can help you do this.
What makes up a business credit score?
Most of the credit bureaus are secretive about the formulas they use to create a business credit score, and some even admit that there can be more than 800 different data points that are taken into consideration. That can make it feel daunting to build up your business credit. Luckily, we can look to consumer credit scores to give us a good sense of the factors that are likely to be the most important, namely:
• Payment History
• Credit Utilization
• Credit History
• Credit Inquiries
1. Incorporate your business as an LLC to protect your personal assets.
2. Obtain a federal taxpayer identification number (TIN/EIN).
3. Open a business bank account. It’s important to note you can’t open a business bank account without first obtaining an EIN.
4. Obtain a business credit card. This can be as simple as opening up a business credit card and making a number of small purchases that are easy for you to pay off quickly over the coming weeks. Assuming you already have money set aside and earmarked for this, you will be able to quickly pay off your business credit card and thus establish your company’s credit.
5. Open a business credit file. This can be done with all three of the reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Additionally, you can apply for a D‑U‑N‑S Number at Dun & Bradstreet. D&B and other credit bureaus can use this nine-digit number to identify your business and its credit file.
How can you continue monitoring your business credit?
By law, each of the three major credit bureaus is required to give you free access to your personal credit score once per year. That is not the case with your business credit score. Despite that, it is worth monitoring your company’s credit score one or two times per year so you can correct any errors and make sure your file is up-to-date. This can help ensure you continue to receive favorable loan terms and are able to better negotiate with suppliers and vendors.
When you’re just starting off, establishing your business credit score may not be your top priority. But, if you plan it right, growing and expanding your company can become much simpler and less expensive if you’ve taken the time to establish good business credit up front.
South Georgia Banking Company would love to help your small business establish a great credit score – please call us or come by today to get started!
UPDATE: Our online banking update has been delayed. When a new launch date is available, we will give you an update.
• Simplified navigation menu
• Supportive of touch-screen technology devices
• Enhanced account information display
• Redesigned screens for account information, internal transfers, loan payments, user information, and messaging.
Important things to note:
• Ensure your contact information and email address are up-to-date
• Your Access ID and password will not change
• All transaction history will remain
• All scheduled transfers will remain
Thank you for your business and support of this change. Should you have any questions, please contact us at 1.888.782.4211.