The ‘TowneBank way’

Published 10:53 pm Friday, October 19, 2012

At Harbour View Friday, TowneBank Chairman and CEO Bob Aston accepts a city of Suffolk gift from city Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes, in commemoration of the opening of new facilities.

TowneBank Chairman and CEO Bob Aston says impressive new facilities opened in Harbour View Friday are “about building our future leaders that will take this company forward.”

A large crowd of the “TowneBank family” gathered at its 22-acre campus near the Riverfront area, where a 45,000 square-foot operations center was officially opened and the 16,000 square-feet Towne University dedicated.

The “university” will provide a “conference-style venue for seminars, meetings and classroom training” for employees of the bank and business units, Prudential Towne Realty, Towne Investment Group, TownBank Mortgage, Towne Insurance and TFA Benefits.

Email newsletter signup

“We will always be respectful of and honor the past … but it’s also important to recognize we can’t be a prisoner of the past,” Aston said.

The fast-growing bank, now Virginia’s largest community bank and employing 1,500, Aston said, arose from a group of “unemployed bankers” who gathered in a Portsmouth garage in about 1998.

The bankers had worked for another community bank, which in 1995 merged with BB&T, effectively putting them out of work.

“Then we look at where we are today … and what has happened … (and it is) just something that just none of us would have dreamed was possible,” Aston said.

TowneBank has been able to get to where it is today so quickly by bringing good people together, Aston told the gathering.

“Let me say that bringing people together, I don’t think Harvard Business School has done it quite this way. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, we did it the Towne way.”

Aston said the way to success is to have the best people, adding, “At this point, we have to make our own, and this is what this is all about.”

The training facility is “another sign of a company that does things different,” he said.

“I guess I have been accused of being unique, and I have been accused of being unorthodox; I don’t know which one is the right one.”

Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson, who serves on the TowneBank board, paid tribute to the TowneBank Foundation, which has “provided charitable grants and donations to over 100 nonprofit foundations … and that is a great example of why you are totally known as a home-town bank.”

State Delegate Chris Jones cited the bank leadership’s vision and perseverance “when many thought that it would not work.”

With total assets of $4.23 billion at June 30, 2012, TowneBank now operates 26 offices in Virginia and North Carolina.