Southern Community Bank president, CEO retires

Wed, 07/30/2008 - 8:28am
By: The Citizen

Southern Community Bank president, CEO retires

Gary D. McGaha, an organizer of Southern Community Bank who has served as its only president and chief executive officer, has retired, bank chairman Richard Dumas said. The retirement was announced to bank employees during a meeting on June 9 and became effective June 30.

A native of Greenville, S.C., McGaha was educated at Auburn University and the University of Tennessee. For 45 years, he worked in the banking industry in and around Fayette County, where he has lived since 1963. He began his career with National Bank of Georgia, First Union Bank (now Wachovia), Citizens Bank & Trust (now BB&T) and Heritage Bank before initiating efforts to found Southern Community Bank.

Southern Community Bank opened its doors for business in June 2000 “with a handful of dedicated employees who shared a common vision of independent banking for Fayette County,” he said. Today, Southern Community Bank employs 78 and manages more than $400 million in total assets. It also maintains offices in Peachtree City, Lovejoy, Thomas Crossroads, Locust Grove, Newnan and west Fayetteville.

McGaha has been active in a host of civic, charitable and economic development endeavors throughout the area. He is a former chairman of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce as well as a former director of the Community Bankers Association (CBA) of Georgia. He has also served in that same capacity for the Georgia Automated Clearing House and the Atlanta chapter of the Bank Administration Institute. He is also a former director of Main Street Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Downtown Development Authority. He has served as a career advisor of the Atlanta Area Technical School and is a former mentor for the Fayette County school system.

“If one takes a good look around Fayetteville, it doesn’t take long to see the fruits of Gary McGaha’s contributions,” Dumas said. “He has positively affected the lives of many young people and attracted quality growth to our community. His efforts over many years have led to Fayetteville being a progressive, dynamic community with an enviable quality of life.”

“I am leaving Southern Community Bank on a daily basis, but will continue in my role as a director,” McGaha said. “I leave it in capable hands and with absolute confidence that the brand of banking we instilled eight years ago will continue to be the signature of this institution.” Among the first issues McGaha tackled when opening the bank in 2000 was to establish a list of service rules which define the service-driven expectations of every employee. Bank employees are expected to memorize and demonstrate the Service Rules at all times, a corporate initiative made largely popular by the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, which instituted a similar program and policy and is routinely the recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige Award for customer service excellence.

“I believed from the beginning that our service and responsiveness would set Southern Community Bank apart,” he explained. “A lot of banks talk about service and relationships, but we elected to make it the very cornerstone of all that we do. To this day, I attribute our rapid growth and prosperity to our ability to deliver on that service as we make a difference in the financial lives of our customers.” In 2006, at its convention in Hawaii, the Community Bankers Association of Georgia awarded its prestigious Quality Service Award to Southern Community Bank and named it Community Bank of the Year.

McGaha noted that he intends to re-discover relaxation in his retirement. He and his wife, Pat, have built a home in the north Georgia mountains where he plans to spend much of his time. He counts among his hobbies traveling, writing and studying family geneology. He has one son, one daughter, three stepdaughters and 14 grandchildren. “My family will keep me quite busy, and I am delighted to now be able to devote my full attention to them and their lives.”

“We can’t replace Gary McGaha and all that he stands for,” Dumas said. “But we will hire an eminently qualified professional whose leadership skills will be exceptional. Gary has set the standard and we’ll be searching for someone who can approach his style and performance. For now, though, we all applaud his efforts and countless contributions as we wish he and Pat the very best in retirement. We do so with a great deal of gratitude, admiration and appreciation for all he has accomplished at and on behalf of Southern Community Bank.”

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