BankFirst Will Purchase City’s Second Oldest Business
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WATER VALLEY – Mechanics Bank President and CEO Cam Tyler reported it will be “business as usual” after a merger with BankFirst Capital Corporation is finalized in early 2023. The news broke locally last Thursday morning as Mechanics Bank sent emails to customers announcing that the bank will be acquired by the Columbus-based bank operating as BankFirst.
“We are going to have the same team working here that our customers have grown to trust, and after a gradual integration, people will ultimately see a different name on the front of the bank,” Tyler told the Herald. “The decisions will still be made locally by the same people who understand our communities and our customers. BankFirst, while obviously bigger than Mechanics, is also a community bank, with its roots in small town Macon, Miss.”
Tyler has served as Mechanics’ CEO and President since 2008 and will remain with the bank after the merger as the Water Valley/Oxford Regional President. He estimated it will take six to nine months to become fully integrated with BankFirst after the deal closes next year. The transaction has been approved by the board of directors of each company and is subject to customary closing conditions including approval from the shareholders of Mechanics and bank regulatory authorities.
“The Mechanics Board of Directors has maintained a strategic commitment to independence for many years. This year was no different as they passed on multiple earlier offers. Ultimately, the opportunity to honor the investment of shareholders while also partnering with a bank that understands our customers, employees, and communities, led the board of directors to unanimously vote to recommend this merger to the shareholders,” Tyler explained.
“BankFirst wanted our team, they have met with most of them and plan to keep the band together,” Tyler added. He also noted that BankFirst places strong emphasis on supporting the markets where they operate. “They want to keep doing what we have been doing, investing in the communities we serve,” Tyler shared. “We look forward to joining the BankFirst team as they share our core values centered on community banking. This merger will expand the portfolio of financial products and services we are able to offer our customers while preserving our team and the relationships built over many years.”
After the merger with Mechanics is completed and the completion of a previously announced merger with Tate Financial Corporation and Sycamore Bank, BankFirst is expected to have 47 offices serving Mississippi and Alabama with assets in excess of $2.7 billion. In addition to Mechanics and Sycamore banks, BankFirst has made several other key community bank acquisitions in recent years. Tyler stated that, “The actions of BankFirst within the communities following their previous acquisitions served only to reassure us that they will fulfill their commitment to our market and will allow us to continue to serve at the highest level.”
“We are excited about the proposed acquisition of Mechanics Bank and expanding our footprint in the Water Valley and Oxford markets,” reported BankFirst President and CEO Moak Griffin. “Being a strong, local community bank for the communities we serve is extremely important to us and the combined company will collectively have over 264 years of community banking experience in the State of Mississippi. This merger will allow us to build upon and further strengthen our shared beliefs, community focus and commitment to service excellence and relationship banking. We look forward to meeting and working with all of Mechanics’ employees and customers.”
The city’s second oldest business, Mechanics Bank was founded in 1892 when Water Valley served as a hub for the thriving railroad industry. J.V. Blackmur, founder and first President, established the Mechanics Savings Bank to serve the many rail workers who called the Valley home. The bank has remained in continuous operations for 130 years, even during the Great Depression when many banks failed, and most surviving banks closed their doors temporarily to calm those in panic.
Mechanics has two locations in Water Valley, the main office at 319 Main Street and a branch at 321 South Main; and three locations in Oxford, 2601 West Jackson Avenue, 1508 East University Avenue, and a branch inside Larson’s Cash Saver in Oxford.
“We know that many within our community have concerns. You cannot make a change like this without stirring the emotions of those who have supported us for so many years. Thankfully, those concerns suggest that we have served our communities well in the past. I hope that all of our customers and those in our community will find comfort and take confidence in a bank with expanding products, services, and technology delivered by the same experienced bankers, who remain committed to helping you pursue your financial goals and live your best life,” stated Tyler.