|Gilmer County Bank|
Ellijay – Main Office
East Ellijay Office
|Appalachian Community Bank|
Blue Ridge Office
|Monday||8:30 – 5:00||9:00 – 5:00|
|Tuesday||8:30 – 5:00||9:00 – 5:00|
|Wednesday||8:30 – 5:00||9:00 – 5:00|
|Thursday||8:30 – 5:00||9:00 – 5:00|
|Friday||8:30 – 6:00||9:00 – 5:00|
|Saturday||8:30 – Noon||9:00 – Noon|
|*Blue Ridge Branch is open 9-4 Mon-Thurs., 9-5 Friday, 9-Noon Saturday|
The origins of our company began with a simple idea that people in general enjoy being “served” and people like to have “control” or ownership. These concepts can be applied at home with family, at school, church or in the business world. Ten local businessmen and their families came together on September 7, 1993 with a common goal of forming a company that would take this simple concept and apply it to a “Service” intensive banking business in Ellijay, Georgia.
The local organizing group chose to apply for a commercial banking charter with the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance and also for deposit insurance coverage through the FDIC. To connect directly with our local community, the organizers choose the name Gilmer County Bank. On May 25, 1994, the Department of Banking and Finance made the decision to approve the charter if our group could raise $5.6 million dollars in capital through a stock offering. The necessary $5.6 million dollars of bank stock sold out within 45 days. This was a key indication that the local citizens were serious about wanting “people to serve them” and have “ownership” of their financial institution.
GROUND BREAKING AND OPENING
Ground breaking for our first banking office on Industrial Blvd. in Ellijay was held on August 31, 1994. The bank was ready for occupancy February 15, 1995. On March 3, 1995, eighteen months after the first organizational meeting, Gilmer County Bank opened for business with 15 full time staff members.
Our charter application called for total assets of the bank to begin at $5.6 million dollars and at the end of 3 years $36 million. After nine months ending December 31, 1995 the bank had $52 million in total assets. Total assets surpassed the $100 million mark in just over 2 years of operation. Gilmer County Bank was listed as the fastest growing start-up bank in Georgia history in 1997. The bank’s success can be strongly attributed to a staff dedicated to “Serving other People”. Secondly the staff took “Ownership” of their jobs as well as became owners of the company through direct stock purchases, 401-k stock purchases and the company’s stock profit sharing plan.
HOLDING COMPANY FORMATION
In 1996, the Board of Directors decided to form a bank holding company named Appalachian Bancshares, Inc. This would allow for the purchase of other banks to join our team. In November 1998, our company made its first acquisition of another bank with the purchase of First National Bank of Union County. First National was chartered by a local group of citizens in Blairsville, Georgia in 1981. The bank was later sold to the Century South Bank group, which operated the bank until our purchase. Our board decided to convert the charter of First National from a national bank charter to a state bank charter to be compatible with Gilmer County Bank. The name of the bank was changed to Appalachian Community Bank. This name fits our geographic market area well and would be compatible for future growth in our region.
TWO BANKS, TWO CHARTERS
The company now consisted of two full service separately chartered banks located in Gilmer and Union Counties. The merger of the two cultures proved to be quite a challenge. Thankfully with the cooperation of the staff members and board members, the culture soon began to come together as a team.
Heavy traffic at our Gilmer County Bank drive thru windows prompted the board to build the Gilmer County Bank Express Office in East Ellijay, Georgia in 1999. The Express Office’s location along Highway 515 also gives our bank name recognition and convenience to thousands of travelers on the 4-lane highway.
Prior to 2000, statewide bank branching was prohibited in Georgia. The only way a bank could have an office in another county was through the purchase of another established bank. The Georgia Legislature changed that law in early 2001, which allowed banks to branch anywhere in the state. Due to this change our board of directors decided to open an office in Blue Ridge, Georgia. In August 2001, Appalachian Community Bank, Blue Ridge, opened as a loan production office. The office became an immediate success and was converted to a full service branch accepting deposits along with making loans in February 2002. The Blue Ridge office was our first attempt to expand our market without the purchase of another bank. The board felt that the contiguous markets of Gilmer, Fannin and Union Counties would enhance the value of our company, which has proven to be very true.
In August 2001, the two independent bank charters of Gilmer County Bank and Appalachian Community Bank were combined. This move served to streamline operations and regulatory burdens. The merger was completed in October 2001. Appalachian Community Bank is the legal name for all our banks. Gilmer County Bank has been retained as a trade name. The theme, “One Great Bank – Two Great Names” was created to help customers know that we are the same family.
From our humble beginnings in 1995, with 16 employees and no customers, until today one important truth exists - “People like to be served” and “People like to have Control-Ownership”. We now have 150 staff members and thousands of customers. Our stockholder ownership base has grown from over 700 in 1995 to more than 1,400 today. We have experienced many growing pains, victories and defeats over the past 10 years, but we strongly believe that a relentless desire to “Serve Others” produces winners!
PHILOSOPHY, VISION, MISSION
Striving to be the best community bank providing quality comprehensive financial services in a secure and trustworthy manner for the benefit of customers, staff, and shareholders.