An Interview With Ray Tate, Goodlettsville, Tennessee Market President
What’s your story? Where did you grow up and have you always lived in Tennessee?
I was born in 29 Palms California on a Marine base. I grew up in Columbia, Tennessee and have spent most of my life in Tennessee but have lived in California, Georgia and Florida. Tennessee is where I’ll always call home!
How did you get into banking?
I studied Finance in college. I knew I wanted to get into banking and did an Internship my senior year at SunTrust Bank in their operations department in Nashville. Once I graduated from college I went to work for Norwest Financial, a division of Norwest Bank. It was a great training ground for lending and a friend of mine in banking got me an interview with a bank. That was 25 years ago.
How is the culture different at FirstBank compared to larger banks?
Extremely different but in a much better way. At FirstBank we have access to Senior Management and local decision making and have a phenomenal story to tell. That truly sets us apart from the large banks and most of our competitors and I feel that the clients can tell that by simply coming into our office.
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of the job is being an advisor to my clients and landing the DEAL. I love chasing the opportunities and landing great deals for the bank. My second favorite part of the job is helping to develop my team members to become successful bankers. I truly enjoy seeing the success of my team probably more than any other piece of my job.
Describe a typical day at the office.
A lot of my day is spent taking care of existing clients putting out fires and helping them with new opportunities to expand and maintain their business. I spend a lot of time helping my existing client base so that we retain them as clients.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid I didn’t really have a major focus on what career I would head into. I just knew that I wanted to be in the business world. That was where I saw the excitement of the day to day things going on.
FirstBank operates as a community bank, with the services and resources of a large bank. What advantages does this give to your customers?
That I am in my market and I have local decision-making ability. If it is out of my authority I generally know if we will or will not do the loan. I love the fact that we work hard with clients to try to make things work for them!
What do you like best about being a community banker?
I love being part of a great organization that understands the need to be part of the community. I am on several boards and I feel that the bank is extremely supportive of those roles.
As a Market President, what’s your vision for FirstBank in Goodlettsville?
To continue the success of the Goodlettsville office and expand into Hendersonville and Gallatin markets.
Describe Goodlettsville, Tennessee in three words.
Growing, strong and potential.
What is your home town known for?
Goodlettsville is the northern gateway to Nashville. It’s a small town with a lot of big town opportunities.
What do you like best about life there?
Even though it is an extension of the Nashville Market it still has a small hometown feel to it.
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?
Retro 80s music.
If you could give your 20-year old self one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would it be?
My parents always taught me to work hard for what I want. I was always required to work through High School and College. I would go back to my 20-year-old self and remind that young man to fight hard every day for what I want. I have a quote taped on my computer screen from Derek Jeter (Retired New York Yankee). It says, “There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”
Have you ever had a mentor who made a difference in your life? How so?
Early on in my banking career I had a supervisor that gave me a chance to become a banker. Once he did that I worked hard to show him he made the right decision. I grew from an entry level RM, to Assistant Manager, to a Market Manager overseeing three offices, to an Area Manager overseeing eight offices to a City President over two counties. I am appreciative that he gave me my first shot to be a banker and still doing that 25 years later.
What’s your life motto?
I live my life knowing that God has created a reason for everything that happens in life. I live my daily life with this motto.
Describe your perfect vacation.
Warm Caribbean Beach vacation with lots of activities and new sites to visit.
Do you prefer indoor or outdoor sports?
I prefer outdoor sports. I grew up playing outdoor sports and prefer to watch and be part of the outdoor scene.
To be named as one of the 90 Best Banks To Work For, this means we work purposely every day to ensure that associates are engaged, having fun and enjoy what they are doing. American Banker conducts extensive workplace surveys and reviews employer reports on benefits and policies, basing their rankings on banks going above and beyond.
For more information on American Banker, visit www.americanbanker.com.