Simmons shareholders celebrate continued success

The Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County and the Juvenile Division of the Jefferson County Circuit Court were honored Tuesday night during the Simmons First National Corporation Shareholders Meeting as recipients of the inaugural ‘Tommy May Make a Difference’ grants.

The grants are the first of what are to become annual awards to programs in the communities served by Simmons through the recently created Simmons First Foundation.

The Foundation is chaired by former Simmons Chairman and CEO and grant namesake J. Thomas May.

Carla Martin chaired the task force that selected the grant recipients.

“A grant of $25,000 goes to Judge Earnest Brown of the Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court’s Sixth Division and his Family Engagement Programs,” Martin said as Brown came to the stage to accept the award from May and Simmons First Chairman and CEO George A. Makris Jr. “This grant will go towards providing funding for the counseling of families of juveniles in single parent environments. Altogether this will provide assistance to 60 families.”

Martin said that the Boys and Girls Club are the recipients of a $22,910 grant that will fund its new LCAFE program at First United Methodist Church.

“This program, which stands for leadership, character and academics for future excellence, will provide exciting opportunities for our youth,” Martin said.

Boys and Girls Club President Maddie Collins accepted the award.

New opportunities

Makris announced that the successful integration of the recently acquired Metropolitan National Bank into Simmons operations marked a turning point in the company’s future.

“Our acquisition of Metropolitan arguably changed the game,” Makris said. “It is a great strategic acquisition and significantly increases our presence in the growth markets of central and northwest Arkansas.”

Makris said a symbol of the company’s optimism is the recently installed Simmons First signage atop the 40-story office tower that was formerly the headquarters of Metropolitan and is now the Simmons First Little Rock corporate office at 425 W. Capitol.

“We have our name up there now for everyone to see,” Makris said.

Makris said the company logo has been updated, and the phrase ‘nearby and neighborly’ has been incorporated into the Simmons brand.

“Moving forward we will continue to focus on maintaining regulatory compliance, continuing our conservative approach to lending and remaining well-capitalized,” Makris said.

Makris noted that the company’s most recent acquisition was Delta Trust and Banking Inc. of Little Rock in March, which he said should be complete by July of this year.

“This will bring Simmons’ assets to nearly $5 billion,” Makris said.

Makris said that Simmons will streamline bank operations in an effort to be more efficient in maintaining regulatory compliance.

“By this August we plan to consolidate our eight bank charters into one,” Makris said. “Despite this, local decision-making will continue.”

May’s contributions to the bank’s current success during his 27-year tenure with Simmons were recognized by Makris and were neatly summarized in a brief video tribute to May.

“Every day when we arrive we are reminded to be thoughtful in consideration of issues affecting the company, then during the day we receive pictures like this [May in his golf cart] saying ‘wish you were here’ ,” Makris said of his predecessor in the good-natured, joking style that is so much a part of the Tommy May legacy at Simmons.