National bank working its way east from Tampa to serve Polk County and the Central Florida market.

PNC Bank may be relatively new to the state, but it’s expanding quickly. And with two men with Polk County roots at the helm and a strong reputation in the distribution and logistics fields, PNC should have no problems.

PNC (Pittsburgh National Corp.) came to Florida in 2011 following the acquisition of two Florida banks. The Tampa office focuses on relationship banking, helping businesses thrive in any economy. Although it does not have any branches in Polk County, it offers ATMs as well as relationship banking services.

Braxton Williams, commercial banking vice president, senior relationship manager and a graduate of Florida Southern College, is working with Chad Loar, regional vice president, West and Central Florida.

Williams said he thinks PNC can complement offerings by smaller banks in Polk County.

“We’re a national presence. We have the ability to finance a larger amount, to hold it on our balance sheet. And we have access to cheaper pricing,” he said.

Relationship bankers need to set themselves apart, so they are not just a commodity, Williams said. “Which is what banking has become as so many many banks offer the same services”

Williams said there are three prongs that make someone a great relationship manager and a great partner to companies they work with:

  • Being responsive. “In our industry, you’d be shocked at how long it takes a banker to respond to an email.”
  • Being knowledgeable about the products being offered and credit. “That’s very impactful for a client,” he said. “Being out there and having educated someone, suggesting how you can save them money and process payments fasters” — are all keys to a good working relationship.
  • Having credibility with your own team. “We have to be able to get the deal done when we say we will,” Williams said. “If we agree this facility makes sense, then we talk about how we structure it. I have to have credibility with my team to get the deal done.”

POLK COUNTY OPPORTUNITIES

Manufacturing, trucking and distribution are strong sectors in Polk County, and PNC hopes to help those companies grow, Williams said they need the service of relationship bankers more than anything.

“We are finding more and more that companies over $10 million in revenue have less of a need for branch locations,” he said. “Most have the technology in their offices, and we can bring services to them.”

Williams said he thinks growth in the construction industry will last for a long time in Polk County and Tampa Bay.

“Even if we see a downturn in the overall economy [causing] a slowdown in growth, Polk County construction should not be as impacted. They should still be able to grow — and we can help them — while some other areas of the country might not be able to do that.”

As PNC continues to grow its business in Polk County, it will start becoming more involved in the community, he said. Williams already feels an attachment here. He said the person he admires most is Rev. Riley Short, former pastor at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland, who always had a smile, even when going through struggles.

“Attitude is a choice. Either go through struggles with a bad attitude or change it and smile and know that life is precious,” Williams said. “Even when I struggle, I always remember that.”

Right now, the struggles for PNC — and other banks — remain wrapped in the banking regulations that occurred after the housing bust, an overcorrection locked in the Dodd-Frank reform and consumer protection act, he said.

“Deregulation is a big key,” Williams said. “If I could snap my fingers, that stress test that bigger banks have to go through, I would change it and focus on other areas, like community development. Not everyone shares the same sympathies for larger banks. But that would help our small business owners reach their goals.”

Williams said he works with a great team of experienced people at PNC, providing everything from relationship banking and corporate/institutional banking to wealth management and investing/merchant services.

“With Loar’s vision and past success, PNC will be a big name brand not only for Tampa Bay but Polk County and Orlando,” he said.