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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Michael Mathis, new Chattanooga president of Pinnacle Financial Partners, talks about the future of the bank on May 10, 2022.

A veteran Chattanooga banker is returning to a downtown bank building where he started his career 31 years ago.

Michael Mathis is joining Pinnacle Financial Partners where he'll become its Chattanooga president. Mathis had been market president for Regions Bank in Chattanooga for the past 15 years.

"For me, the opportunity to join some of the best bankers in the market and a fantastic leadership team was really enticing and probably the only thing that got me to consider a change," he said in an interview.

Mathis, who was raised in Chattanooga, said that a unique part of the move is he'll be working at Pinnacle's Chattanooga headquarters building on Broad Street where he started his career in 1991 when the site held Pioneer Bank.

"It's almost coming home, full circle," said the banker, who had joined Pioneer out of Furman University.

Craig Holley, Pinnacle's Chattanooga chairman, said in an interview that the bank has recruited Mathis for the last 15 years.

"It didn't happen overnight," he said. "Michael is one of Chattanooga's top business and civic leaders, and we are pleased he has chosen to join the Pinnacle team.

Holley called Mathis "a well-respected, veteran banker who brings deep knowledge and experience to our firm at a time when our growth trajectory is steep and climbing higher. We want to be Chattanooga's bank, and this team is going to get us there."

Mathis, who joined Regions in 2003, will work on a leadership team with Holley, Pinnacle Regional President Kenny Dyer, Area Executive Mark Feemster and Area Manager Ryan Murphy.

Mathis, along with Feemster, will manage the firm's Client Advisory Group, made up of 18 financial advisors who provide business, commercial and private client services to companies and their owners in the region, according to the bank.

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Mathis moving to Pinnacle Financial Partners

Feemster was part of the founding group of bankers that started CapitalMark Bank & Trust in Chattanooga in 2007. It was acquired by Nashville-based Pinnacle in 2015.

Feemster most recently was a financial advisor at Pinnacle's Broad Street office. With new responsibilities, he will lead a team of commercial bankers in the market, according to Pinnacle.

Dyer said in an interview that he and Mathis worked together for years at what was then Pioneer Bank.

"His leadership will help accelerate Pinnacle's already strong growth and momentum in the Chattanooga market," he said. "I will work closely with Michael and Mark as we continue to recruit talented, experienced bankers who can help us grow our market share."

Pinnacle already is the fourth-largest bank in the market in terms of deposits. Holley said deposits in the Southeast Tennessee market at Pinnacle are approaching $2 billion.

He added that Pinnacle is leading the market with businesses with revenues from $1 million to $500 million.

"We're pretty proud of that," he said.

Mathis said he was competing against Pinnacle for years as market president at Regions.

"That wasn't a lot of fun," he said. "This is a tremendous opportunity to join old friends and a few new friends."

Mathis said that when he started his career at Pioneer, he learned about customer service.

"That's the foundation of banking is taking care of customers," he said.

Holley added that he, Dyer and Murphy "are not going anywhere. This expansion of the leadership team is about growth, the phenomenal growth we've experienced, and we need to add talent as we continue to grow."

Pinnacle provides a range of banking, investment, trust, mortgage and insurance products and services designed for businesses and their owners.

In Chattanooga, Pinnacle employs 120 workers, according to the bank. Companywide, it has about 3,000 people.

Pinnacle is the No. 1 bank in the Nashville metropolitan area, according to 2021 deposit data from the FDIC, and is listed by Forbes among the top 25 banks in the nation.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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