An Interview With Bruce Cotton, Linden, Tennessee Market President
What’s your story? Where did you grow up and have you always lived in Tennessee?
Yes, I was born in Linden on September 2, 1948. I attended elementary school at Pineview Elementary and high school at Perry County High. I received my bachelor’s degree at UT Martin and graduated from the LSU School of Banking in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After college I joined the Navy and spent 15 months as a communication technician in Waiwha, Hawaii. I returned home, married and found no jobs I was interested in pursuing in Linden so I moved to Jackson, Tennessee for a year and worked for a finance company.
How did you get into banking?
After a year working for a finance company, John Will Bates who was the president of the Bank of Perry County in Lobelville, called me and asked me to come to work for him. He was building a new office in Linden and needed a branch manager. I took the job and that was my start in banking in 1973.
How is the culture different at FirstBank compared to larger banks?
I have never worked in a large bank.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Being able to help people capture their dreams.
Describe a typical day at the office.
You really never know what the day will bring.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t remember.
FirstBank operates as a community bank, with the services and resources of a large bank. What advantages does this give to your customers?
Customers in Perry County love the feel of home town banking. They are a person not a number but have all of the services available they require.
What do you like best about being a community banker?
Customers feel like they are a part of our FirstBank family. They enjoy coming to the bank to do business because they feel at home here. We love being able to take care of our customers in house.
As a Market President, what’s your vision for FirstBank in Linden?
I want our customers to know that their information is strictly confidential with us. We are a friendly but professional bank that can fulfill the needs of the community we serve.
Describe Linden, Tennessee in three words.
Rural, agricultural and scenic.
What is your home town known for?
Buffalo River and Baptist Camp
What do you like best about life there?
There is plenty of space to breathe. I can’t imagine living in a metropolitan area. I love the outdoors and the peace and quiet.
What’s your favorite lunch spot there?
If we got in your car and turned on some music, what are some songs that would be on your playlist, CD or favorite radio station?
The Carpenters, Allen Jackson, but no hard rock or rap!
If you could give your 20-year old self one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would it be?
To find a job that makes you enjoy going to work every day.
Have you ever had a mentor who made a difference in your life? How so?
Yes, John Will Bates who was president of Bank of Perry County and Holly Godwin who was president of First State Bank in Linden. They both made sure I had every opportunity to become the best banker I could be. John Will sent me to the LSU School of Banking of the South and that was a great school. They both wanted me to have every opportunity to learn about banking. I did everything from running the proof machine to running the bank.
Describe your perfect vacation.
Anywhere I can go with my wife.
Do you prefer indoor or outdoor sports?
When I was younger (much younger) I loved to play basketball. But now my favorite sport is golf.
FirstBank has been named as one of Middle Tennessee’s Top Workplaces by The Tennessean for four years running, winning the 2018 Hall of Fame award. To be a Top Workplace, FirstBank met high standards for a healthy workplace culture as ranked by its own employees.