(Diane L. Wilson)
"But it will be our secret," he said, with a laugh.
But press him a bit and you catch a glimpse of a softer side.
"I think people don't realize that I'm a real compassionate guy. Compassionate to a fault," he said recently from his office at Montgomery Bank in Cape Girardeau, where he was recently promoted to president of the commercial banking division. "People perceive me differently sometime."
Interesting comment from the former Southeast Missouri State University football coach.
And it's an interesting time at Montgomery Bank.
In addition to the Limbaugh promotion, Montgomery Bank announced other key leadership changes. Joel Montgomery Sr. has announced his retirement as chairman of Montgomery Bancorporation Inc., the parent company of Montgomery Bank. Succeeding Montgomery as chairman of Montgomery Bancorporation Inc. will be Troy Wilson, the current chief executive officer of Montgomery Bank. Replacing Wilson as the chief executive officer of Montgomery Bank will be Kenneth A. Whitbrodt Jr.
Limbaugh recently sat down with Business Today for a Q&A to talk about his promotion, his thoughts on banking and how -- to this day -- he still considers himself a coach.
Oh, and why he's not ashamed of making a profit.
BT: Tell us about your promotion. What is that?
Limbaugh: The Montgomery family made the decision on Troy's new position with the holding company to hire a new chief executive officer of the company and his name is Ken Whitbrodt. He also had an extensive career with Boatmen's, so our banking philosophies are very similar. And my new role will be handling the commercial banking responsibilities for all of the markets, which will include St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Sikeston and we have two LPOs, loan production offices, in Naples and Fort Meyer, Fla.
BT: How will bank and customers see the difference?
Limbaugh: This will be an absolutely seamless, transparent move for me. I will still have ultimate responsibility for the commercial activity in the Cape Girardeau market that I'm very familiar with, having spent the majority of my career here. I am very familiar with the Sikeston market. The advantage for having me and Ken work together is that Ken is a St. Louis native. He has a great knowledge of the St. Louis market. We will be able to complement one another, especially in the ability to create new relationships in the St. Louis market. The real growth market s the St. Louis metropolitan market. And he's a St. Louis native, so obviously it makes sense. We can pool our talents. I know the Southeast Missouri market well and he knows the St. Louis market well.
BT: Do you have any of that coach mentality left in you?
Limbaugh: That is my reference point, I think, from a coaching perspective. Casey Stengal once said, when asked by the media, what makes a good coach? Without hesitation he said, "good players." Pretty simple. I find myself using lots of athletic metaphors. It's a reference point for me. Creating a game plan if you will, finding good players and then allowing your players to execute. In fact, it has provided the framework for my management style. I consider myself a coach, sometimes a player-coach. The name of this game, as in any industry, is finding good people. You don't have to have a lot. Just a few good folks and build your team around them and then get out of the way. They know boundaries and those good people know the boundaries and understand the strategy. They also understand the responsibility is to provide the execution to make sure the strategy works. And also be flexible enough to make sure if you have to adapt the strategy you can be nimble enough corporately and personally enough to make some changes. It's like halftime of a football game. You go into halftime and you make adjustments based on what the other team is trying to accomplish. It's absolutely the same philosophy. Same game, different places. I would suggest to you that's true for most industries.
BT: Why'd you choose banking?
Limbaugh: It was absolutely by accident. Had an opportunity to move to Kansas City after I graduated. I'd spent the majority of my life in Cape Girardeau. I needed a change and had an opportunity to go with United Missouri Bank of Kansas City and moved to Kansas City and loved it. Great opportunity for me.
BT: You're chamber president, so what do you see as some strengths and weaknesses of the Cape Girardeau business climate?
Limbaugh: My grandfather always told me the beauty of Cape Girardeau is that we are relatively recession free and I would characterize that in a couple ways. We have the university, which is the foundational part of Cape Girardeau. It creates that cornerstone and frankly differentiates us from other communities around us. That, coupled with an excellent regional medical community with two good hospitals and excellent physicians and all the infrastructure involved with the medical community. I mean, you can't find that anywhere in a community of 40,000 people that gives you all the specialties and what the medical community gives to this community in terms of the delivery of health care. Then we've always had a very vibrant retail economy. We have become less dependent on agriculture, although it remains a very critical part of our economy. And you have some light manufacturing, P&G, TG, Nordenia and Dana and Lone Star. And I don't think this is the destiny of Cape Girardeau -- to create a bunch of smokestack industries. But the future of Cape is to niche ourselves and to find those companies that make widgets or provide goods and services that employ 50 to 300 employees and that's the niche that we're going to be most successful in, I.E., the NARS folks.
BT: Banking question ...
Limbaugh: There are too many banks (laughing), way too many banks.
BT: So you knew where I was going, huh?
Limbaugh: My philosophy is the more the merrier. Banking is about providing consistent great service to your customers, nothing more, nothing less, because customers have choices. Customers also expect a certain amount of fairness, just what you would consider. You're a consumer. Walk into a bank. What do you expect? This is not MBA stuff and it's not rocket science. It's providing good old fashioned, hi, how are you, instead of this stuffed shirt, intimidating environment. Our commodity is money. And we package it and we price it and we sell it in a hundred different ways. But the fundamentals are, the people who provide the service. It is a people-oriented industry buttressed by technology, especially in a community banking environment. People have a level of expectation. The product menu of all banks are the same and it's priced consistent. All banks have a common theme: Make a profit and not apologize for it. We are in the profit making business, but you do it with great service and honesty and integrity. Pretty basic. Pretty basic stuff.