The signage has changed, and the computers are talking to each other. As of Monday, systems conversion – the last step in the merger of Columbia, South Carolina-based South State Bank and Charlotte-based Park Sterling Bank – has been completed.
“Last year, I said South State Bank wanted a larger presence in North Carolina,” South State President and CEO John Windley said in a recent interview in Wilmington. “Our newly completed merger gives the bank that, as well as a larger presence in Wilmington. It gets it into Raleigh and Virginia for the first time. We now have 170 locations in four Southeastern states, and we’re in five of the 10 fastest-growing financial markets in the Southeast.”
With the merger, South State Bank has six locations in the Wilmington market. The former Park Sterling branch on Shipyard Blvd. joins other Wilmington branches on South College and Military Cutoff roads, one branch in Topsail, one in Leland and one in Sunset Beach.
With assets now of more than $14.5 billion, South State Bank’s size allows it to join the ranks of large banks and provide products and services to a much broader range of customers, Windley said.
“We’re able to make larger loans to larger customers; we can lend to most any company within our four-state footprint," Windley said. “Formerly, our largest loan would be between $5 million and $10 million. Now we can lend between $50 million and $100 million if we need to, and we have some customers who could [handle that size loan]. Our size allows us to move up the food chain a bit and deliver higher quality products.”
Despite its growth, South State still acts like a community bank in terms of its local decision making and its ability to deliver services locally, according to Windley. He pointed to the relationships David Parker, South State’s Wilmington-based regional president, and Mark Tyler, the bank’s senior commercial officer, have developed in the region.
“Customers like to call Mark or David rather than call somebody in Atlanta to get issues resolved," Windley said.
Parker said in the interview that South State’s large investments in a treasury platform make the bank’s technology foundation “competitive with that of larger banks.” He added that he, Windley and Tyler had talked with three potential commercial clients that pre-merger South State could not have hoped to woo.
“Now there are very few commercial clients in this market whose needs we cannot meet,” he said.