As Chad Evans’ career has progressed, so has his role with the state’s largest banking organization in terms of deposits.
And after 25 years of working for Arvest Bank, he can’t imagine working for any other company.
“It’s rare in today’s world that you find a company that treats its people well, and gives you opportunities in your career,” he said. “It’s hard to leave that.”
In August, Evans, 45, was appointed president and CEO of Arvest Bank’s Joplin-area market. 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 Joplin market has 185 employees working in 17 locations touching three of those states. With $660 million in assets, it ranks ninth among Arvest’s 16 markets.
“It has been a tremendous transition for us,” said Evans, a married father of two boys, ages 13 and 9.
Evans, a Bentonville native, started working for the company as a part-time teller in 1990, just a year removed from graduating Bentonville High School.
By the time he was recognized as a Forty Under 40 honoree by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal in 2009, he had worked his way up the ladder to become an executive vice president. Along the way, he was part of teams that established Arvest in new banking markets like Joplin (1997) and Fort Smith (2000).
When the Joplin market’s previous chief executive, Doug Doll, announced his retirement, Evans pursued the job.
“It was a goal,” he explained. “The experiences I had up to that point, I felt like, had finished off the training and I was ready to take that next step.”
Before moving to Joplin, Evans worked in his hometown as regional director of community banks for Arvest Benton County. He was tapped for the new role in 2010 after Arvest combined its Bentonville and Rogers operations into one bank market for Bentonville, Bella Vista, Rogers and the six surrounding communities.
His office was on the downtown square in Bentonville, giving him the perspective to marvel at the area’s transformation from afterthought to destination.
“I remember as a kid, there was really never a reason to come to the square,” he recalled. “Today, there is never a moment where there isn’t somebody out there doing some kind of activity.”
As a community banker, Evans said he relishes the opportunity to become part of the Joplin community. He said the family is in the process of buying a new home there, and he has taken a spot on the advisory board of the Robert W. Plaster School of Business at Missouri Southern State University.
But, he admitted, the new job was so attractive partly due to the proximity to his hometown, now just an easy 45-minute drive thanks to recent highway and interstate improvements.
His mother and several immediate family members still live in Benton County, and his younger sister, Carol, is married to Tom Halbmaier, longtime girls’ basketball coach at Bentonville High School.
Besides fulfilling a professional goal with Arvest, Evans also realized a personal achievement two years ago when he earned his college degree through an online program offered by Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. He was just eight hours short of a degree when he was offered the opportunity to manage a bank branch in 1993, and he left the University of Arkansas to become a full-time banker.
“It was a promise I kept to my mom and my wife to finish my degree,” Evans said.
Evans said his two boys are very involved with multiple youth sports, and so is he as a volunteer coach. The games, practices and travel occupy most of his time, but Evans said the family also loves to take camping trips (Devil’s Den is the favorite destination), and he and his boys have begun kayaking more frequently.
As for his new job in Joplin, Evans said he intends for it to be a career move.
“No doubt, I will still be wearing the blue [Arvest] name tag for a long time,” he said.