As Dennis E. Nixon is recognized by the Texas Bankers Association for his 50 years as a banker, this is what he shares:
How does a career span 50 years? One day at a time.
I knew in 1960, when I got my first banking job as a clerk at Mercantile Bank in Corpus Christi, that I had found my niche. Even though I was only filing checks and copying microfiche, I realized I was in an industry I loved and I was determined to make my mark in financial services.
Looking back, there have been tremendous changes - mechanically, legislatively and socially - I couldn't have imagined when I was starting what has become a lifelong career. Who could have seen the Internet coming in the early sixties? For that matter, who could have predicted, half a decade before men landed on the moon, that desktop computers would ever exist?
Before I became president at what was then Bank of Commerce in1975, I'd already been an examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in south Texas beginning my professional career in 1964, and an executive vice president at another bank in Laredo beginning in 1970.
When A.R. Sanchez hired me at Bank of Commerce in Laredo, it was with the goal of growing what was a $35-or-$40-million bank in a sleepy little border town into an international banking leader. By the time Texas banking regulations had changed to allow branch banking, we'd changed our name from Bank of Commerce to International Bank of Commerce and grown to around $150 million in assets. That put us on a 25-year growth track.
During that time, we capitalized on that commitment to become an international bank and expanded along the Texas border, all the way to Houston and north to San Antonio and Austin. In 2004, we bought a group of banks in Oklahoma and reached outside Texas for the first time. Today, IBC is a $12.1 billion bank with more than 200 locations employing approximately 3,500 people.
I'll always think of myself as a Texan, but my roots stretch back all the way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I was born. My father was in the Coast Guard and I started college at Delmar while he was stationed in Corpus Christi. When the rest of the family moved to Alaska, I went to Austin and finished my education at the University of Texas before going to work for the OCC in 1964.
But that desire to have an impact on the community was always there. I knew I was meant to manage a bank, not inspect them. I liked the idea of working with everyone in the community, being involved in the exciting things they were doing. It still makes my blood race to stand beside my neighbors during challenging times and know I helped them succeed and provide for their families and make our community a better place.
And, after 50 years, I have thousands of those stories. It's a very satisfying feeling to see a grandfather who I worked with when he was just starting his family business bring his grandson into the bank and introduce me. "This is Mr. Nixon. I've known him since before your father was born. He's a good man."
To know that man trusted me with his family's future, and then his son trusted me to help build on that legacy, and now, to meet the third generation of that family, and know the bank I helped build is going to be part of their future: that makes it all worthwhile.
As I look ahead at the future of community banks like IBC, I see some challenging times. Regulations, compliance, and political interference are making it hard for community banks, like the one I love, to exist. That's why I encourage young people just starting their career to have a sense of urgency. Don't be satisfied with the way things are. Don't accept the status quo or, "that's just the way it is." There are always going to be obstacles between you and anything worth having. Don't wait for the perfect moment. Build your future right now, and do it with a passion. Ultimately, to be successful you must love what you do.