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Citizens Bank & Trust Celebrates 104 Years of Serving Polk County

June 14, 2024 News

May marked the 104th year of business for Citizens Bank & Trust. They have remained successful by building on the legacy of founder Latt Maxcy.  

Maxcy and six other businessmen started Citizens Bank & Trust in Frostproof in the 1920s with just $25,000. Maxcy was chairman and his brother, John, was president. The bank is now in its third generation of family ownership.  

“Mr. Maxcy started the bank to provide some stability to the town of Frostproof,” said President & CEO Greg Littleton, who was named president in 2001. 

“It was not all that unusual for a town to kind of dry up and go away. He didn’t want that to happen to Frostproof- its townspeople, businesspeople and the travel industry. A bank would provide stability to the town,” Littleton said he has been told. 

“Our commitment today is still there for the community in a different perspective,” he said. “A lot of what we do and are about is to make sure we are good citizens in the community and do our part when we can to make this a better place for all of us.” 

Littleton has worked at the bank for 27 years. “I’m so aligned with the corporate philosophy and the philosophy our owners have that I know I couldn’t find that anywhere else. The mission of our bank is simple: We believe we have a responsibility to take care of our owners, employees and community. That’s something we strive to do every day. We get up and try to do the right thing. To be at a company that allows you to do those things and serve our customers the way we think we should, we’re a great fit.”  

We believe we have a responsibility to take care of our owners, employees and community. That’s something we strive to do every day. We get up and try to do the right thing.

Greg Littleton, President & CEO

Citizens Bank & Trust has 16 offices — 13 in Polk County, two in Hillsborough and one in Pasco — and about 200 employees.

Recent Highlights

Citizens Bank was successful when the pandemic started in 2020 because it was very active with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Littleton said. “We were in the top 10 in Florida as far as lenders go, and we are not in the top 10 as far as size. We did $180 million in PPP loans. Over a 30-month period, our bank doubled in size. It took 100 years for us to get to $650 million, and by the end of the pandemic we were at $1.2 billion. That was a result of being there and servicing our customers and non-customers.” 

The bank has spent the last two years “growing into” its new size, he said. “We stepped back, grew into that size, made sure our infrastructure and back rooms were in place and we had the staff we needed. So, it’s been really exciting stuff. We are now close to $1.3 billion. We never set out to grow for the sake of growth, but it does allow us to do things we couldn’t do otherwise.” 

For instance, he said, technology is more affordable. The bank’s lending capabilities have increased, and the size of the team has grown to allow employees to provide better service to customers.  

In 2023, Citizens made about $200 million in loans — 80% were in Polk County and 100% were within the bank’s footprint, Littleton said.  

“If it’s a home loan, it still supports the economy. Someone may have moved here to go to work and needed a home. Someone built that home.” 

But the biggest percentage of loans are commercial, all related to growth and all contributing to the health and well-being of the economy.  

Future Plans

The bank has opened its fair share of brick-and-mortar branches over the last five to 10 years, Littleton said, so it doesn’t have plans for any more right now.  

“We will be trying something in a couple communities where we have a reach, but we don’t have a full-service branch – we will be experimenting with an interactive teller machine,” he said. “We hope to have the first virtual branch deployed in the third quarter of 2024. You can drive up to it and it will do everything an ATM will do but also has a call button feature you can use to tap into the nearest branch and talk to someone there.” 

Investing in the Community

Citizens Bank & Trust spends “a fair amount of money in sponsorships and monetary support to different organizations.” But, Littleton said, something else makes him even prouder. 

“Anybody can do that if they have the means,” he said. “What I’m most proud of is that I’d like to believe we put our money where our mouth is. We’ve done ‘inventories’ of folks’ volunteer hours in the community – every time, we log over 10,000 volunteer hours a year. Some of those hours are bank sponsored, but a lot are teaching Sunday school, being a troop leader for the Boy Scouts, coaching baseball. I think that says a lot about our Citizens Bank family, and it shows we are about more than just writing a check.” 

Bank employees also provide a lot of leadership to different organizations around the county. 

Littleton serves or has served on many boards, but he distinctly stated being on the District Board of Trustees for Polk State College is a highlight. He said it “has been a really good experience. I’m a Polk State graduate, so seeing the difference an education can make in the lives of young people really has an impact. When you look around the county and see all of the things that have come about because of PSC – law enforcement, nurses, educators – you can see PSC has improved the quality of life for all of us and helped graduates improve their own lives because of an attainable, affordable education.” 

He also supports organizations like the United Way that provide outreach programs to help residents. 

“We support them in a little way, and they help citizens in a big way,” he said. “It takes all of us to make things run.” 

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