By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – A linchpin of the Woodville community is turning 102 soon, and has some changes in store, but promises it is committed to maintaining core values; values which are likely responsible for such longevity.
Citizens State Bank, which opened on May 8, 1920, is under new ownership, and its main branch in downtown Woodville is sporting some new looks, but according to Kimen Johnson, the bank’s Chief Experience Officer, the bank will always provide “the same look you in the eye and shake your hand type of service” it has always provided.
The bank’s new president, Harry J. “Johnny” Brooks, a 40-year veteran of the banking industry, sees the importance of the bank within the community.
“For a community to be really vibrant, it should have three things, a good hospital, a good school district and a good bank. All of those things are essential,” Brooks said.
Brooks bought the bank on August 31, 2021. He said he saw an opportunity with a bank that had a good, strong business acumen, and most importantly, “some good folks,” Brooks said.
When Brooks seized the opportunity, he saw an institution that had the potential for growth. “My vision for the bank is I want it to become a leading bank in East Texas. I like to think we can grow this bank to a billion dollars, or more,” he said.
Brooks said there are some changes ahead, but changes that make good business sense. Aside from the Woodville branch, there are CSB locations in Marlin, Warren and now Kingwood, but the locations in Spurger and Colmesneil will close on May 20 of this year.
Brooks said those locations were not profitable, however, CSB customers in those areas have access to the full range of online banking services, and the ATMs will be kept up, with the ability to make deposits through them.
Johnson added that CSB has implemented more digital banking channels to meet the needs of the marketplace, and customers will be able to handle almost all banking functions online, from their smartphones or computers.
Another change that the public might have noticed is the implementation of a new logo. The logo features the letters “csb” in a stylized font, with stars and a trio of red swooshes. That particular bit of marketing/branding identity was important, according to Brooks, as the old CSB logo, which utilized a ram made Brooks think too much about a particular automobile manufacturer and its similar logo. Plus, there are several other banks with similar names.
The logo was a creation of the employees, and was voted on by the employees, Johnson said.
Citizens received its charter in 1919 and opened the next year. Johnson said that, originally, in 2020, the bank had hoped to celebrate its centennial, but the pandemic put the kibosh on all of that.
Instead, this year, CSB will celebrate 102 years, complete with a party to follow the Dogwood Festival Queen’s Weekend parade on Saturday, April 2. The bank is inviting the public to come in and join the celebration at the Woodville branch, which will begin immediately after the parade’s conclusion.
The party will allow the public to see some of the interior renovations made to the bank, which include new flooring, a new paint scheme, new furniture and other accoutrements that help make the bank a place that Brooks said encourages pride in both its employees and customers. “It had languished,” he said. “I wanted to let the community know I was committed to Tyler County, and put my money where my mouth is to spruce it up,” he said.
CSB will also have a float in the parade, and as part of its participation in Tyler County’s annual springtime celebration, there might be a few neat surprises in store for festival attendees, Johnson added.
Brooks saw participation in the Dogwood Festival as hugely important. “Tyler County has a proud heritage, and us being a part of the Dogwood Festival is one of the best ways to show people what all our area has to offer,” he said.
“We’re proud of being a part of Tyler County and proud to participate, and to show our potential for growth and exemplify the community’s needs,” he said.
Johnson spoke about Brooks’s business acumen and motivating presence to the employees. She said it is inspiring to listen to him talk about the bank and future goals, and noted his energetic and positive spirit. “He is great at being able to get people motivated and excited,” she said.
Brooks said he is deeply committed to the county, as well as the bank, but most of all the people. The customers, Johnson said, are the bank’s most important asset, which is reflected in its very name. “Our core values have not changed,” she said.