EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story appeared in the April 3 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
After 33 years in the banking business, Payne Brewer says he’s in the fourth quarter of his career. And in August, he’ll be able to take advantage of the myriad of perks that come with turning 55.
It’s that experience, though, that makes Brewer such a valuable asset to Arvest Bank, where he’s worked since 1997. He spent the bulk of the time working in his hometown of Fayetteville, ultimately becoming loan manager, before making the move to the bank’s Benton County market in March 2014 as a commercial banker. Last summer, he was named commercial loan manager for Arvest Benton County, sharing the role with Jason England. The two of them oversee a commercial lending team of 10, and also supervise the bank’s treasury management team.
“He’s deeply caring for his teammates and co-workers,” said England, who has worked for and with Brewer at Arvest for 12 years. “He’s a super heart-felt and caring individual. Whenever there is an associate or customer or teammate in need, I guarantee you the first person you will hear from is Payne.”
Although all Arvest branches are technically part of the same Fayetteville charter, the company currently maintains 16 separate community bank markets in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, each with its own executive team and advisory board.
The Arvest Benton County market has 385 employees, and with $2.4 billion in assets, it ranks first among Arvest’s 16 markets.
Brewer knows the fourth quarter is no time to falter. Like many savvy business leaders, he understands he has the opportunity to continue impacting the business.
“Commercial lending is working with customers to build relationships, but it’s also mentoring our younger bankers,” Brewer said. “That has been the part for me that I have really enjoyed. That’s what I like to do best.”
Brewer, a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class in 1997, said Arvest Benton County originated more than $200 million in commercial loans in both 2015 and 2016. This year is off to a strong start, too.
Commercial lending, Brewer explained, is an equal mix of art and science. The fundamental numbers of a deal, the ability to repay, collateral, being analytical — that’s the science part, Brewer said. “We don’t want to get anybody into a situation that’s going to be hard to get out of,” he said.
The art of the commercial lending equation is the business evaluation, and what a borrower can bring to the table that’s going to give them good prospects for success.
“We get into those intangibles pretty quickly,” Brewer said. “We spend a lot of time getting into a relationship with our customers because we feel like — and my experience tells me — that is where you get that exchange of information, which is beneficial for both parties.
“We want a relationship where the customer feels that they not only can share what is going on with their business, but they want to share. They can see a value to the relationship. We talk about that a lot and put it into practice every day.”
Brewer is not only an asset to Arvest Bank, he’s also an asset to the community. While headquartered in Fayetteville, he was very involved with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Washington County and served in a leadership capacity on several boards including Rotary Club, Lifestyles Inc. and the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation.
The involvement has carried over to Rogers, where Brewer is president of the Downtown Rogers Rotary Club. He is also a board member of the Arkansas Public Theater.
Brewer is also a doting granddad. He and his wife, Tina, have two adult sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandsons “who are the light of our life,” he said. “We are real proud of our family.”
As for the rest of his fourth quarter, Brewer said he won’t be hard to find.
“If you find me not with Arvest Bank, I will not be in banking,” he said. “I am looking forward to finishing my career here doing what I am doing now. Family, work and community are pretty much what I’m about, and all of those things are very rewarding.”