By Jackie Stewart
This article reprinted from American Banker magazine. Published October 19 2017, 11:00am EDT
First Reliance Bancshares in Florence, S.C., has finally gotten involved in the consolidation wave sweeping the Carolinas.
The $435 million-asset company recently announced the first acquisition in its 20-year history, agreeing to buy Independence Bancshares in Greenville, S.C.
The deal and the company's recent entry into a North Carolina market are designed to help the company stake a claim to independence. While some risk is involved, the strategies are good ones if they are well executed, industry experts said.
Rick Saunders, First Reliance’s president and CEO, is convinced the company will succeed due to a culture that places a high value on employees.
“We’re big believers that associates come first, customers are second and shareholders are third,” Saunders said. “We believe engaged associates equal loyal customers. With those two working well, then the shareholder ...