For Billy Sears, Vice President at BankPlus, the booming economy coupled with a hometown bank which seeks to serve as catalyst for personal and business growth boils down to one key factor — relationships.
"It's all about relationships," said Sears, a Belzoni native. "To me relationships are everything. I tell my customers that I try to get them the best deal, whether it's sitting down talking about a loan or an account or a rate or anything along those lines. If they see a deal they just can't turn down, by all means go in that direction. I will be here for the next one. I just want to make sure they are making the right decision for their family. We can always talk through things. It's a pleasure for me to get to talk to people every day, and it's not necessarily just about business. We get to talk about their wife and kids and how things went for them that day and then we can get down to business. Growing up, I always wanted to be a little bit like a psychologist. Being in this industry, I like to know what makes people tick."
Wife Kristen and sons Jack, 10 and Sam, 7 have lived in Hernando for the past five-and-a half years. They previously resided in Olive Branch for more than seven years.
Both areas are among the fastest growing in DeSoto County and the Mid-South.
"A lot of the reasons for my move here to BankPlus is that a lot of people are wanting to buy a swath of land and build their dream home," Sears said. "There are more than a few new subdivisions that have popped up down here. There is dirt being moved all over the county. New home sales are booming and businesses are, too. There are all kinds of things going on."
The fast pace of life in Mississippi's fastest-growing county is a far stretch than life Sears enjoyed as a boy growing up in the sleepy Mississippi Delta town of Belzoni.
"I grew up in Belzoni, Mississippi which is the Catfish Capital of the World and the Heart of the Delta along with a couple of different monikers," added Sears. "Being in a small town, everybody knew my dad. At the hardware store, the bank, everybody knew who I was. My dad still runs a used equipment business there, an equipment jockey as they say. He's a senior. I'm a junior. I was always Little Billy. That's how I want my kids to grow up in this town of Hernando and in DeSoto County like where I grew up in Belzoni. Hopefully my reputation speaks for itself."
Sears stakes that reputation on every business or personal loan that he is involved in.
"We run the gamut here at BankPlus," Sears said. "We're a complete, full service bank. We do a lot of construction loans. That has pretty much been my day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month transaction lately. My time down here in Hernando has been construction loan after construction loan. We do everything from huge retirement communities and hotels to construction loans for residential homes. It's all very exciting and a great thing to watch and be involved in."