Wes Smith, chairman and CEO, has retired from Northwest Georgia Bank after 42 years of service to the 107-year-old community bank, and more than 47 years in the banking industry.
He will continue to serve on the bank’s board of directors and its holding company, NW Services Corp., as well as serve as a consultant to the holding company. His son, president and COO Scott Smith, is now the bank’s chief leader and interim CEO.
“I have enjoyed most of my 42 years at the bank, although the last four years have been difficult. It was not easy dealing with customers who needed loans and did not qualify, but thankfully, trends are looking positive and the future looks good,” Mr. Smith said. “I will most miss helping people start their business and purchase their first home. I want to thank our staff and our communities for the support and loyalty they have shown me and Northwest Georgia Bank over the years.”
Hired in 1971 as a vice president-commercial lender when Northwest Georgia Bank was still the Bank of Ringgold, Mr. Smith has led the community bank since 1978 - first as president, and since 2004, as chairman and CEO.
During his tenure, the bank has grown from about $6 million to more than half a billion in assets at its peak in 2008 before the bottom dropped out of the economy, and grown from two to nine branches, with four in Chattanooga.
A Whitwell, Tn., native, he started his career in 1965 at Chattanooga’s Pioneer Bank as a teller in the management trainee program while also finishing up a bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Two years later, the bank tapped him to manage its branch on Highway 58, where he worked for four more years.
Mr. Smith is also a graduate of the Tennessee Bankers School (Vanderbilt) and the School of Banking of the South (LSU).
A former chairman of the Georgia Bankers Association, he has served on the American Bankers Association (ABA) Board of Directors - one of only 23 directors out of more than 8,800 banks nationwide at the time. He also served on the ABA Government Relationship Council, ABA Administrative Committee, ABA Community Bankers Council and the ABA BankPAC Committee.
A strong community supporter and civic leader, he led the founding of the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman for two terms. Among his past philanthropic activities, Mr. Smith served as chairman of the Better Business Bureau of Chattanooga, as a board member of the Cherokee Area Council – Boy Scouts of America, as a board member for Truett McConnell College, a trustee of the Dalton State College Foundation, and vice-chair of Hutcheson Medical Center.
He is most proud of the philanthropic work the community bank has accomplished via the Northwest Georgia Bank Foundation, most notably donating more than $1 million to local charities and the construction of the Northwest Georgia Bank Amphitheatre that opened in 2007.
He currently serves on the boards of Northwest Georgia Bank, NW Services Corp. (the bank’s holding company) and the Northwest Georgia Bank Foundation. Most recently, he served as treasurer for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s gubernatorial campaign and served on his transition team.
Mr. Smith and his wife, Shirley, have three grown children and six grandchildren. Ms. Smith, who leads the Shirley Smith Learning Center in Catoosa County as well as the Catoosa Citizens for Literacy, serves on the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia. Krista owns 25th Hour Spa and Salon in Ringgold. Todd, former longtime deputy chief of staff for former Congressman Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), is a consultant in Washington, D.C. Mr. Scott Smith serves as president & COO of Northwest Georgia Bank and serves on the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.