Chambless to lead DeWitt F&M branch

By Christina Verderosa

DeWitt Era-Enterprise of DeWitt, Arkansas

Back in June 2006, Brad Chambless was busy with the Berry Law Firm in DeWitt, working on commercial, banking, and somecrimi-nal and divorce cases. Then he got a visit from Gary Hudson.

Hudson wanted to talk to Chambless about maki ng the same career change that Hudson had made back in 1980 from law to banking. He talked to Chambless about joining him at Farmers and Merchants Bank and eventually succeeding him as head of the DeWitt branch. Now, Chambless will be startingoff 2010 by moving into the top spol in DeWiti now that Hudson has succeeded Don Pattillo as president and CEO of Farmers and Merchants Bank.

Chambless said the change to banking "was the best move 1 e\ er made for me and my family.

1 have the ability now to spend much more time w ith my family. There are no more lengthy trials out of town."

Chambless said he had an excellent practice and t relationshi p with Berry, who helped by steering him into commercial and banking law in the first place. "1 owe him a great debt."

But the change to banking has also "given me the ability to work with eminently competent and caring individuals."

The Chambless family is originally from Louisiana. The) later moved to Dumas and then came to DeWitt, when Chambless'parents Alton and Kathryn Chambless bought DeWitt Economy Drug about 20 years ago. Chambless left DeWitt to go to college, came back briefly and then went to law school in Fayetteville. He maintained a general practice with an office in Dumas before joining Berry in 2001.

Chambless said he did some "soul searching" before making the change, but it has proven to be "a great fit for me and my family."

Now that he's moved up to the top spot in DeWitt, Chambless said his goal is to "maintain growth with the primary focus on customer service and buildingcommunity." His predecessor, Hudson, "is the catalyst who grew the bank from a trailer to here."

Chambless hopes to build on that growth. "I'm committed to standing behi nd ourcu'stomers," he said. That includes "to continue lending. "This isone major distinction ' between the large banks that have been in the headlines for the past year and community banks.

There is a "perception that all banks are the same," he said.

"Community banks have not been a big part of the various crises." One reason is that community banks have not gotten involved with adjustable rate mortgages, which have caused most of the problems with foreclosures and "underwriters that are outside the operation." This makes community banks "more conservative and more in tune with customers."

Chambless has taken his interest in building a strong community outside the bank. He has been involved in the campaign to build a new middle school, is active in Rotary and volunteers at Dana's House.

He can also be found at any event for the Pattillo Center, where his wife, Ja, is the director.

Although Chambless doesn't have the long history in DeWitt of his predecessor, being an "outsider" hasn't been a problem. "I'm blessed at being accepted and taken in by this community."

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