TWST: Would you give us a brief historical sketch of the bank and a picture of the things you're doing right now?
Mr. Majors: Our bank is approaching its centennial. We were founded in 1909 here in Danville, Virginia, and for most of its history, it was a bank strictly for the Danville market area. About 14 years ago, we began expanding into other parts of Virginia and North Carolina. We are now a one-bank holding company and our only bank is American National Bank and Trust Company, which has 18 full-service offices and one loan production office. We are headquartered here in Danville, Virginia, but we have offices in each direction, including Lynchburg, Martinsville and South Boston, Virginia, and a loan production office in Greensboro, North Carolina. We are a full-service commercial bank with assets approaching $800 million.
Most of our growth recently has been in the small-business banking area and the banking services for those owners and employees of the businesses. We also are fortunate to have a very strong trust and investment services division with $450 million under management. About $400 million of that is in the trust department and about $50 million is in our brokerage area. We provide all types of financial services. We believe that we must compete with the big banks, and therefore we have the technology to offer that, along with the services that our customers expect.
TWST: What are the main items on your strategic agenda for the next few years?
Mr. Majors: With assets near $800 million, we realize that with regular normal growth we are soon approaching the $1 billion mark. We are now looking at how we become a $1 billion bank and still retain the qualities that our customers like in a community bank. We are putting a lot of emphasis on remaining a "relationship bank," where we develop and maintain relationships with our customers. We also are looking to grow in new markets that make sense for us, particularly to get us into markets that have more growth opportunity for us. We expect to do that either with new offices, de novo, or through acquisitions. Within our existing markets we're going to make sure that we can provide the products and services that our customers want. We will be putting a lot of emphasis on the technology that is necessary to provide the services that business customers want such as remote deposit capture.
TWST: What would you reasonably expect the bank to look like in about three years?
Mr. Majors: I think that we're going to be a $1 billion plus bank in assets. I think that the growth in our loans will be primarily in small-business lending. Our geographic footprint will be expanded in both Virginia and North Carolina, because we sit right on the line. I think that our trust and investment services division will have corresponding growth, because as we move into new areas, we're finding that there are great opportunities for those products. A number of the larger banks have pulled back and are only interested in very large relationships there. This gives a bank like ours a tremendous opportunity. We are able to have a good and profitable relationship at an account size that is significantly less than the larger banks want to deal with.
TWST: Would you state the two or three best reasons for the long-term investor to look very closely at American National Bankshares?
Mr. Majors: I think there are several things. The first is that we're an undervalued stock. On a p/e basis, we're undervalued to our peers while we are a very high performing stock. I think that as our market improves and as we move into new markets, there is a real opportunity for people to get into a currently undervalued stock. Potential (as well as current) shareholders should feel comfortable with our performance. We pay a very strong dividend and a lot of people like to see that. Finally, we are not living in the past, but instead we are looking at what our opportunities are in the future to grow this franchise and to provide greater value for our shareholders.