Wes Smith retires as CEO of Northwest Georgia Bank

Wes Smith retires as CEO of Northwest Georgia Bank

February 27th, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Local Regional News

Wes Smith, chairman and CEO of Northwest Georgia Bank, with the safe that originally served the Bank of Ringgold in 1904.

Photo by Mike O’Neal

Northwest Georgia Bank CEO Wes Smith announced today he is retiring after 42 years with the Ringgold, Ga.,-based bank.

Smith will continue on the board of the bank's holding company, NW Services Corp., and will be succeeded by his son, Scott Smith, who will serve as interim leader of the bank as its president and chief operating officer.

Smith's departure comes following more than $35 million in losses at Northwest Georgia Bank over the past four years, including a $9.66 million loss in 2012, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Northwest Georgia Bank is operating under a consent order with bank regulators and its equity capital shrunk last year nearly 30 percent to $21.8 million, while the bank's assets dropped by nearly 14 percent during 2012 to less than $451.4 million.

"I have enjoyed most of my 42 years at the bank, although the last four years have been difficult," the elder Smith said in a statement today. "It was not easy dealing with customers who needed loans and did not qualify, but thankfully, trends are looking positive and the future looks good."

Hired in 1971 as a vice president-commercial lender when Northwest Georgia Bank was still the Bank of Ringgold, Wes Smith has led the community bank since 1978, first as president, and since 2004, as chairman and chief executive officer. A Whitwell, Tenn., native, Smith started his banking career in 1965 at Chattanooga at the former Pioneer Bank.

A former chairman of the Georgia Bankers Association, Smith also has served on the American Bankers Association (ABA) board of directors.

During Smith's tenure, Northwest Georgia Bank expanded from two to nine branches, including four in Chattanooga, and grew it asset size to more than $622 million in 2009 before the recession forced a shrinkage in the bank's lending and asset size.

Northwest Georgia Bank did not receive any of the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) loans provided to other area banks such as SunTrust, Regions and First Security Group.