WATER VALLEY – Following a 17-year role as Mechanics Bank CEO and President, Eddie Ray stepped down last week in a stockholder’s meeting. Chief Financial Officer Cam Tyler was announced as the new president and CEO to succeed Ray.
Ray will continue to work daily at the bank and was selected as the chairman of the bank’s eight-person board during the same meeting. Ray’s appointment as chairman follows a five-year term fulfilled by D. R. Ingram.
Tyler will take the reins of a bank that has seen significant growth in recent years, advancing to $200 million in assets, 70 employees and operations in Water Valley and Oxford. Mechanics Bank has served Water Valley since 1892.
“Our team gives you confidence,” Tyler said, noting the tight-knit workforce that he was quick to credit as a driving force in the bank’s success.
“We don’t look at people we are helping as a number,” Tyler continued. “We look at them as a person – we help them will their life and their future.”
“His leading characteristic is compassion,” Ray said, describing his successor and noting the natural fit to perpetuate the customer-oriented mentality.
“We have never turned our eyes away from caring about our customers, from building those relationships,” Tyler continued.
The change was anticipated as Tyler had been promoted to Chief Financial Officer in April, 2006, giving him the opportunity to handle more of the day-to-day responsibilities.
“In many cases in a small bank, there is not enough preparation for a manager’s succession,” Ray said.
Tyler began working with Mechanics Bank in 1997. Like many others, he began his career in Water Valley working for Brownie Crawford, starting in 1989 after receiving a Master of Business Administration from the University of Mississippi.He worked for Crawford until 1997.
In a market where successful small banks are often courted by larger banks who are hopeful of a buyout, the emphasis on staying Mechanics Bank will remain strong.
“That commitment is still here,” Tyler said.
And while performing the traditional bank role, Mechanics has also followed the trend in which banks seek to diversify their operations to remain profitable. Last October the bank purchased an independent insurance agency and can now provide its customers with affordable insurance options. The bank has also installed a mortgage loan business, is revamping its brokerage and is realigning the trust business.
Ray indicated he would focus on these areas of expansion, noting he also looks forward to having more time to get out and meet with customers.
Tyler is married to Julie Ingram Tyler and they have three children, Lauren age 14, John Christopher age 11, and Caroline age 8. The Tyler’s reside in Water Valley where they are active in the First Baptist Church, teach youth Sunday school and volunteer for area youth league sports. Tyler’s parents are Bob and Dale Tyler, also of Water Valley.
Tyler is also a past president and current board member for the Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Water Valley Main Street Association, and Chair of the Lending Committee for the Mississippi Banker’s Association.