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Photo by Dave Flessner / Builtwell Bank leaders, including President Patti Steele who is holding the scissors, cut the ribbon Thursday for the rebranded bank at its downtown Chattanooga headquarters on Broad Street. The former First Volunteer Bank was renamed Builtwell Bank this week after an employee contest came up with the new name as the bank expands beyond the Volunteer State. Photo was taken August 4, 2022.

The banking industry in Chattanooga has kept sign makers busy in the past decade with nearly all of the biggest banks in the region taking on new names after mergers, acquisitions and expansions across the South.

First Volunteer Bank, the biggest locally owned bank in metro Chattanooga, is the latest bank to join the rebranding trend. On Thursday, the leaders of the $2 billion-asset bank cut the ribbon for their newly rebranded Builtwell Bank.

Bank President Patti Steele said the new name emerged from an employee contest, "brand our bank," to rename First Volunteer as the Chattanooga-based bank expanded beyond the Volunteer State of Tennessee. Among more than 200 suggestions by bank employees, Builtwell emerged as the winning moniker because Steele said it reflects the strength, heritage and foundation of the bank, which traces back to its start as Marion Trust and Banking Co. in 1904.

"We're a well built bank and the name just seems to fit who we are," Steele said in an interview at the bank's downtown headquarters on Thursday. "We had a group of new and long-time employees meet and work through about a hundred questions about what they think our bank stands for and what it means. We all feel like we are built well and this is a strong name for a strong bank."

The Builtwell name also will be used for the bank's holding company, insurance company and mortgage operations. Steele said the ownership and philosophy of the bank continue the same even with its new identity and growing size.

Since relocating to downtown Chattanooga and renaming the bank First Volunteer Bank in 1999, First Volunteer has acquired other banks in Etowah, Lawrenceburg, Jameston, Jacksboro and Benton, Tennessee, and in Ringgold, Georgia.

After acquiring the former Gateway Bank & Trust in Ringgold in 2012 and buying the First Bank of Dalton last year, Steele said the bank needed a new name as its moved beyond Tennessee.

The acquisition of FBD Holdings, the parent company of First Bank of Dalton, is the biggest of nine bank purchases First Volunteer has made during the company's history and boosts the size of the bank by about 30%. Builtwell Bank officials said the new name will begin appearing on the six Bank of Dalton branches on August 18.

Three years ago, Chattanooga's two biggest banks changed their names when SunTrust merged with BB&T to create Truist Bank and First Tennessee changed to First Horizon after buying the biggest bank in Louisiana. The former Cornerstone, CapitalMark and Amsouth banks which also operated banks in Chattanooga in the recent past, were merged with bigger banks and also took on new names in Chattanooga.

Despite the name change to Builtwell Bank, bank officials said customers can continue to use their First Volunteer checks and credit cards until they get replacements in the future, officials said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340. Follow on Twitter at @dflessner1.

 

BANKING ON NEW NAMES IN CHATTANOOGA

Most of Chattanooga's biggest banks have taken on new names with mergers and expansions in recent years. Here are the banks in the region that have taken on new names:

* First Volunteer became Builtwell Bank this week

* First Tennessee become First Horizon in 2019

* SunTrust became Truist Bank in 2019

* The First Bank of Tennessee in Dayton became Simply Bank in 2018

* Cornerstone became SmartBank in 2016

* CapitalMark became Pinnacle Bank in 2015

* AmSouth Bank became Regions Bank in 2006

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