ST. LOUIS --- In a move designed to advance leadership succession plans for Midwest BankCentre (MBC), President James A. (Jim) Watson has assumed the additional role of chief executive officer from Ronald T. (Ron) Barnes, who remains chairman, effective Oct. 1. Barnes also continues to serve as president and vice chairman of Midwest BankCentre, Inc., the St Louis-based financial holding company that owns the bank.
Watson’s assumption of day-to-day bank leadership responsibilities will enable Barnes to place greater emphasis on special initiatives. These include the continued development of MBC’s Community Development efforts and pursuit of bank acquisitions while sustaining his active involvement in several nonprofits.
Midwest BankCentre has total assets exceeding $1.1 billion. Its primary banking focus is on privately held and family-owned businesses.
Barnes joined Midwest BankCentre as regional president-commercial banking in 2003. He assumed executive leadership as bank chairman in 2006. Watson, who succeeded Barnes as regional president-commercial banking in 2005, has served as bank president since 2006.
“Jim Watson’s leadership abilities have been well-tested over the last several years. He has honed his exceptional customer service approach, developed an outstanding team of both experienced and young leaders, and ably tackled the regulatory challenges imposed on community banks during the last five years,” Barnes said.
Barnes and Watson have worked together at Midwest BankCentre for 10 years, and previously held multiple executive positions with Mark Twain Bank in St. Louis, where they collaborated for more than 20 years. Barnes’ banking career has spanned financial institutions in St. Louis, Mo., Kansas City, Mo. and Houston, Texas. He chairs the Finance Committee of Incarnate Word Foundation, serves on the Executive Committee of the Family Resource Center and previously chaired Beyond Housing’s Operations Committee, all of which he also serves as a member of the board of directors. He also is a member of Grace Hill President’s Council, serving in an advisory capacity to the leader of Grace Hill Settlement House.
Watson joined Midwest BankCentre in 2000. In a career spanning more than 35 years, he has served privately owned businesses and nonprofits throughout St. Louis and Southwestern Illinois. Recently elected to the Missouri Bankers Association board of directors, he is active in the community as a member of the board of directors for Circus Flora and as co-chair of the Development Campaign for Better Family Life. Watson previously chaired the boards of American Red Cross Blood Services and the Caring Program for Children. He formerly served on the board of the St. Louis Chamber Chorus and as a District Chairman for the Boy Scouts’ Greater St. Louis Area Council.
The bank’s executive team has cultivated community connections through more than 100 regional bank board members who are business leaders in the local community. “A hallmark of our success over the past decade has come from these close relationships with local business owners who keep us keenly aware of current business challenges and needs,” Barnes said. “They are a crucial part of our agility in serving as a strong community banking partner to local businesses, organizations and institutions.”
Under Barnes’ leadership, Midwest BankCentre has expanded its presence to customers in underserved neighborhoods of north St. Louis County with a new bank branch in Pagedale, opened in November 2012. During his tenure, MBC loans outstanding have grown from about $550 million to $750 million today while remaining a Bauer 5 Star-rated bank throughout the banking crisis that began in 2008. Since 2006, total bank assets have grown by $200 million and the bank’s capital position has risen by $37 million or 45 percent to $120 million. The combined effect has enabled MBC to confront the mounting number of community banking challenges.
Midwest BankCentre (www.midwestbankcentre.com) provides integrated financial services with an expertise in commercial and retail banking, including checking and savings accounts, business cash management and mortgage lending. As a community bank, Midwest BankCentre makes decisions on a local level and clients have full access to the executive team. Since 2001, it has consistently achieved the Bauer Financial 5-Star Superior financial rating, the highest ranking for strength and stability awarded by Bauer Financial.