When David Byrd was a 12 year-old growing up in south east Kentucky, he dug coal dust out from under conveyor belts. His family had been in the business since the late 1800’s but two summers in 95° heat was a game changer for him. He says, “It makes you really focus on going to college.” And so he did – graduating from Transylvania University in 2004, majoring in business and finance. Now Byrd, 40, is the new branch manager of BancorpSouth’s Medical Center Branch in Fondren.
Byrd has been in his new position for nearly a month and, according to the branch’s business development manager Vanda Crowe, he’s a quick start. “He’s learned it so fast, he’s almost telling me how to do things,” she laughs. “We’re so glad to have him here.”
The feeling seems mutual for Byrd who has known Crowe through their involvement with the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership where both serve as ambassadors. “When the opportunity presented itself to come across the street, I thought it was fantastic,” Byrd says. “I can stay in Fondren where I’ve worked since 2008.” Byrd comes to BancorpSouth after serving as branch manager of Regions Bank (previously AmSouth Bank).
BancorpSouth, Byrd believes, is the right fit for his style. “I think this bank will allow me to develop more in-depth relationships with customers,” he explains. “It’s a different way of banking here, more family oriented.”
And, the move gives him a new opportunity to help others. “I chose banking because I wanted to use my education to help people,” he says. “This is an important and privileged job. You’ve got your doctor, your priest and your banker. You tell them everything. Confidentially and trust is crucial.” Byrd thinks of the relationship in another way, calling customers “family.” “We make them feel comfortable here. And that says a huge amount about BancorpSouth. They honestly take care of their customers 110 percent.”
Crowe, a 36 year banking veteran, concurs: “Banking has evolved,” she says. “People don’t bank with banks: they bank with people.” Crowe explains there is no fine line. Simply put, BancorpSouth’s employees are a team. “I wear many hats and David will find out that he wears many hats, too. We will share in that role of bringing in new business and fostering relationships,” she tells us. (Jason Brooks, former branch manager, has been promoted to business development officer at the Colony Park branch in Ridgeland.)
Byrd says he is excited about the commitment BancorpSouth has made to Fondren. “The company has definitely pledged its support to this neighborhood, no question,” he says. And to the state: BancorpSouth announced this spring the “Grow Mississippi” 2013 loan pool. The $500 million dollar fund is earmarked for small business loans. Byrd calls this huge.
“Fondren is the perfect place for those funds to go. There’s such a huge diversity of small businesses here. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of these funds,” he said. According to a press release, the monies are allocated for the specific purpose of funding loans to businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to locate in our state, as well as for existing businesses looking to expand operations. Governor Phil Bryant has lauded the effort as key to bringing new jobs to the state.
Byrd looks with optimism at what lies ahead in his new role. “I want to continue to advance in my career, in a business banking and consumer banking position,” he says. “Here, you can do it all. It’s nice to know you can take care of customers no matter what their needs.” And even further down the road? “We’ll wait and see what it holds. But if I retire from BancorpSouth, that would be fine with me.”
Beyond the Banking Walls
Byrd and his wife moved to Jackson in 1997 so that she could attend law school. Now a partner with Rob McDuff downtown, the couple had always planned to return to her hometown of Waveland, but finding jobs here and Katrina destroying her family home kept them put. They’ve lived in Northeast Jackson, just beyond Fondren, since 1998.
As chair for the Fondren Association of Businesses committee under Fondren Renaissance, Byrd is leading efforts to collect business data for a common, up-to-date directory of area merchants, restaurants and professional services. “Having us all under one umbrella streamlines things and put us all on the same page,” he says.
And, he’s a proud 4th generation Kiwanian, serving as president of the North Jackson club. Kiwanis International focuses on the well-being of children worldwide and holds fundraisers throughout the year. Byrd is proud to say that 95% of money raised in Jackson stays in the tri-county area. His group volunteers monthly, cooking for the families who stay at Fondren’s Ronald McDonald House.