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Twice as Wide

A Note From the Chairman

July 28, 2021

 

Randy Lemmon, host of a popular Houston gardening radio show was describing the procedure for digging a hole when planting a tree saying, “Twice as wide, half again as deep.” The idea is that the extra space which gets filled with new soil provides the tree with a chance to grow its roots faster and stronger. The concept reminded me of how we grew over the past 14 years and continue to nurture Allegiance Bank as the number one community bank focused on our region. The extra space and added soil is represented by our continual investment, primarily in people, but also in growing locations and continually advancing technology.

I visited one of our fastest growing bank locations last week. The Bank Office President reviewed his hiring plan noting that while the productivity numbers for that location are getting better and better, he is not only willing but excited to be adding new, talented staff who will further increase their potential. Although the profitability of that location will temporarily decline due to the new hires, the long-term future being created is following our “twice as wide, half again as deep” philosophy. Hiring and developing new staff is a commitment that also speaks to our core purpose of ever increasing the valuable assistance we can provide to independent business owners so that the entire region will continue to grow and prosper.

This organic analogy which emphasizes the long-term power of growth made me think of the Peter Sellers movie, “Being There.” In the movie, Sellers played the role of an uneducated gardener named Chance. His employer died leaving Chance unemployed. Walking down the street of the upscale neighborhood, well-dressed as was his custom, Chance was greeted by an upper-class gentleman who mistook Chance to also be of high society. Chance’s words were few but because of the conversation he was placed into the position of an advisor. At one juncture Chance was publicly asked his advice for how to revitalize the economy to which he famously replied, “In the garden, growth has its seasons.  First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter.  And then we get spring and summer again.” His audience thought he was a genius economist, and so goes the comedic circumstance of the movie.

Although there have been sputtering sounds as the economy has attempted to return to normal in 2021 and with Covid risks not yet 100% a thing of the past, the economic charts reflect a tremendous amount of “spring-like” improvement.

One article, dated June 2, 2021 in the Wall Street Journal by Gwynn Guilford and Sarah Chaney Cambon, highlights many of the positive signs of our recovery such as the boom in housing sales, the surge in jobs recovery, and that consumer household debt is as low as it’s been since the 1980’s. The article attributes the rapid if not sudden V-shaped recovery to the fact that the recession was due to a natural rather than a financial disaster, that the Federal Reserve stepped in more quickly and boldly than ever and that the stimulus was also outsized and immediate. The Covid recession was not like a traditional debt crisis recession going in and has behaved differently as we come out.

As demand recovers at a rapid pace we are experiencing the economy react much the same as when I try to start my power washer than often sits idle for over a year. It complains to me by sputtering and spitting before it fully restarts. The supply chain is out of whack with too little of this here and too much needed there. In their recent semi-annual monetary policy report, the Federal Reserve commented that “real gross domestic product this year appears to be on track to post its fastest rate of increase in decades…Labor demand also appears strong; job openings are at a record high, hiring is robust…Inflation has increased notably and will likely remain elevated in coming months before moderating…rapid price increases for some goods and services should partially reverse as the effects of bottlenecks unwind.” They concluded it all saying that their current monetary policy is to maintain low rates until employment more fully recovers with an aim toward a 2% long-term inflation rate. My take on this is although we’re not 100% there yet, things are indeed looking up.

That is where Allegiance Bank comes in. Just as we were during the pandemic with PPP and other means of assisting our customers and so many others in our area, we are prepared to be with you as we further build our community together. Relationship banking has never proven its worth more than in the past year and a half. The bank is bigger and stronger than ever. Our lending teams are “shovel ready,” prepared to assist new and existing customers with your virtual spring-summer “planting” projects.

My final thought is that it is easy to get overwhelmed with the volume of news and economic information that floods us each day. I’d rather listen to my grandfather’s advice, “better to just get your boots on and get to work.”

 

Allegiance Bank Chairman Steven Retzloff

Steve Retzloff, Chairman

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