Having heart. That term has many meanings to different people. For many it is dedication to give their all in everything they do. For some it means bettering their community through action. For others it’s ensuring world-class customer service for clients. Ask the leadership team of Texas First Bank their definition and they would answer all the above and then some. For Charles T. “Chuck” Doyle, his heart is in true independent community banking. That’s the way it was in 1973 when Doyle and a group of investors purchased First State Bank of Hitchcock from Shearn Moody. That small bank in the western portion of Galveston County would eventually grow from an individual bank with $7 million in assets to a company with 27 locations, 55 ATMs, and assets of $1.48 billion. That sort of growth only comes when you have heart.
“I look at where we are now, and I think we have arrived,” said Doyle. “We can become as big a bank as we want to be, but not lose our presence as a community bank.”
Doyle looks at a map showing each of Texas First Bank’s locations. It’s a network that stretches from Galveston into Houston, west to the I-10 Energy Corridor, north to The Woodlands and Conroe, and east into Liberty and Winnie. Doyle refers to it as Texas First Bank’s “Golden Triangle.”
“You can’t find a better footprint of community banks in Texas,” he said. “We are not a Wall Street bank, don’t want to be. “But we have the tools, technology, assets and, most important, the people and leadership to provide the services anyone could need.”
Not bad for a former Union Carbide personnel manager who gave up a comfortable job with the company’s Texas City plant to venture into the financial world. “I always liked helping people with banking and financial situations,” said Doyle, who left Union Carbide to manage investment assets for a group of doctors. Even before that venture, Doyle helped form Carbide Employees Federal Credit Union in Texas City. Years later he was able to work with his partners to acquire First State Bank of Hitchcock. The goal then was to have a bank in every incorporated city within Galveston County. Banks in Galveston, Santa Fe, Texas City, La Marque, Bolivar Peninsula, Kemah, Dickinson, League City, and Friendswood would follow over the next 26 years. Despite the growth, Texas First Bank’s heart remained dedicated to true community banking.
“We were really a consumer bank operating much like a modern-day credit union – except we pay taxes!” said Matthew T. Doyle, one of Chuck’s sons and the Chairman of the Board of Texas First Bank. “Dad always instilled in us that people, not accounts, are our business.”
Matt Doyle isn’t the only Doyle son to work at Texas First Bank. His brother Christopher C. Doyle is the President/CEO of Texas First Bank. Doyle’s son-in-law Mike Burkhart joined the Bank in 1984 and serves as President of the Santa Fe location. Three grandsons have also joined the ranks of leadership within the Texas First Bank family of banks and insurance agency: Sean Doyle, Ryan Doyle, and Bryan Burkhart. After achieving the goal of establishing a bank in each of the primary communities of Galveston County, Texas First Bank expanded into other nearby areas by acquiring other community bank groups.
In 2006 Texas First Bank merged with Gulf Coast Bank with locations in Winnie, Baytown, and Fannett. Like Texas First Bank, Gulf Coast was a community-first-minded banking group, and the merger established how future expansion would work. Then came a location in Pearland and, after the purchase of Texas Coastal Bank in 2012, came Texas First Bank locations in Deer Park and Pasadena. Later that year there was a merger with Houston Business Bank that would help grow Texas First Bank’s commercial business. The Doyles had founded that bank in 2009, and it was the last bank charter issued in Houston until this year.
“We’ve always been a strong retail bank, making car loans and establishing accounts for individuals,” Matt Doyle said. “Now we are helping more small businesses and entrepreneurs grow with our commercial accounts.”
Almost all the mergers and acquisitions came about because of ongoing personal relationships between Texas First Bank executives and executives of the banks that would become part of the Texas First Bank family. That was the case with the most recent merger with Preferred Bank, which had locations in the I-10 Energy Corridor, Spring, Meyerland, Conroe and The Woodlands. Having 34 years in community banking, Preferred Bank Chairman Herb Williams is cut from the same cloth as Chuck Doyle. And the only way he would consider a merger was to work with a banking group with the same community-first philosophy.
“They are just like us,” Chris Doyle said of Preferred. “They are a great community bank and great community-minded people. The people are the most important part of any merger. And with Preferred Bank we have that great mix of the great professional bankers and an independent, community bank.”
Those people are more than employees. They are family.
“I like to say my family is my business and my business is my family,” said Chuck Doyle. “I know it’s cliché for companies to say we are like family, but here it’s true. Every day.”
Indeed, many employees of Texas First Bank are quick to point out that, whether celebrating special occasions within their lives or offering assistance at times of hardship, the sense of family within Texas First Bank is ever evident.
“I think they trust us. They have a trust in the executives that we aren’t greedy, that we are not out there for the almighty dollar,” Chuck Doyle said. That trust comes from seeing the company “walk the walk,” when it comes to community commitment, Matt Doyle said. “It’s something our parents instilled in us to do both personally and in business,” he said.
From holding elected positions – Chuck was a Texas City City Commissioner and Mayor while Matt serves as Texas City’s current Mayor – to serving on non-profit boards – Chris Doyle is president of the Salvation Army of Galveston County, while Chuck and Matt both have held top board positions of the region’s largest non-profits – look at the board members and top volunteers of the community and civic groups in each of the 27 communities Texas First Bank has a presence, and you will find bank employees serving.
They do so with the same heart they show for banking customers. It’s what sets Texas First Bank apart from the others. And it builds upon 47 years of trust that started at a small bank in Hitchcock. “Trustworthiness is probably the most important value in a bank,” Chuck Doyle said. “It’s a core value. It’s at the heart of what Texas First Bank is all about,” Doyle said.