Simmons First Announces J. Thomas May Retirement, Succession Plan

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 657 views 

Simmons First National Corp. announced the anticipated retirement of Chairman and CEO J. Thomas May to be effective December 2013.

May has had health issues, but has continued to lead the Pine Bluff-based bank holding company.

George Makris, a longtime director, will succeed May as Chairman and CEO, and will assume position of CEO-elect on January 1, 2013.

In addition, the Simmons First board of directors announced that David Bartlett, Corporate President and Chief Operating Officer, has been named to the new position of President and Chief Banking Officer of Simmons First National Corporation, effective January 1, 2013, reporting to the Chairman and CEO.

Makris will continue his service on the board of Simmons First National Corporation and Bartlett will be named to the board effective January 2013.

Makris, a 15-year veteran of the Simmons First board, serves as Chairman of the Economic Development Corporation of Jefferson County and Vice-Chairman of the Jefferson Hospital Association Board of Directors.

He is a Director of the National Beer Wholesalers Association and served as a member of the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Advisory Panel. Makris also serves on the Board of Visitors of the UAMS College of Medicine.

Makris received his B.A. from Rhodes College and his M.B.A. from the University of Arkansas. A lifelong resident of Pine Bluff, he and his wife Debbie, have three sons, George III, Nick, and John.

Bartlett is currently on the Arkansas Bankers Association Board and serves as Chairman-Elect. He also is a Board member of the Baptist Health Foundation, Treasurer of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and a UALR Fast Forward Steering Committee member.

Bob Fehlman, Executive Vice President, and Chief Financial Officer, will become Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Simmons First National Corporation and will assume new responsibilities as Corporate Treasurer, a newly created position reporting to the Corporate Chairman and CEO.

Marty Casteel, Executive Vice President of both Simmons First National Corporation and Simmons First National Bank, will continue his administrative duties in the corporation reporting to the Corporate CEO. Casteel will assume the additional title of Chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Bank and in this role will report to the President, and Chief Banking Officer of the Corporation. He will become a member of the Simmons First National Bank board of directors.

Craig Hunt, Executive Vice President with Simmons First National Bank, has been promoted to President of Simmons First National Bank, and will also assume new responsibilities as the Corporate Chief Credit Officer.  Hunt will report to the Chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Bank and will become a member of the bank board of directors.

“One of the most gratifying experiences I have had in recent times, is watching how our Board of Directors, under the leadership and guidance of Dr. Harry Ryburn, a 37 year member, with 10 years as Lead Director, worked on this succession plan for over two years,” said J. Thomas May. “It has been a methodical and forward thinking process to use our management talent where it can be most effective and with a commitment to make the change transparent to all of our stakeholders.”

“While it will be extremely difficult for me to say good-bye when I retire in December 2013, it will also be exciting to watch this new team, which has been a part of leading this company through one of the greatest recessions in history, take Simmons First to a new level in size, geographic footprint and creating shareholder value. It is a really strong team, and the process exemplifies a ‘best practice’ when it comes to corporate governance and succession planning. Our Board of Directors has excelled and this team will take our company to a new level of performance for all of our stakeholders,” May added.