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Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank in Florence, has joined the Board of Governors at the College of Charleston School of Business.

“We are pleased to welcome Rick as the newest member of our Board of Governors,” said Buddy Darby, chairman of the College of Charleston School of Business Board of Governors. “Rick is a well-respected community and business leader in South Carolina, and his expertise in commercial banking will bring fresh insights and perspectives for the students and for the program at large.”

In 1999, with 19 years of banking experience, Saunders founded First Reliance Bank, which has since grown to nearly $711 million in assets. First Reliance employs 175 associates with branches in Florence, West Columbia, Lexington, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, Greenville, Taylors, Simpsonville, Myrtle Beach and a loan production office in Columbia in South Carolina. The bank also has a branch in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Mooresville, N.C. ...

Brings local experience to commercial lending team

Blake Dressler has joined First Reliance Bank as senior vice president and senior commercial lender. Based in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Dressler will be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with business customers offering advice on business accounts, loans, treasury management services, mortgage, and investments through First Reliance Wealth Strategy along with personal banking services offered to business owners and their employees.

“We’re excited to welcome Blake to our commercial lending team in Mount Pleasant,” said Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank. “He knows the Charleston market well and will be a valuable asset to our customers across the state.”

Dressler brings over 13 years of experience in the banking industry, most recently serving as senior vice president of commercial banking at a community bank. He received a B.A. in business management and real estate from the University of South Carolina and completed ...

Industry veteran brings more than two decades of experience to new role

Michael Edens recently joined First Reliance Bank as senior vice president and private banker. Based in Columbia, S.C., Edens will be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with business customers and providing counsel on a variety of services, including personal and business deposit accounts, loans, treasury management services and investments available through First Reliance Wealth Strategies.

“Michael is a seasoned private banking professional, and he brings a wealth of experience to our team in Columbia,” said Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank. “His business-savvy approach to banking will serve our clients and their interests well.”

Edens joins First Reliance with more than two decades of experience in private banking, most recently as a senior vice president at Southern First Bank. He received a B.A. in finance from Wofford College and completed Louisiana State University’s Graduate School of ...

New Senior Leader to Facilitate Additional Growth

First Reliance Bank has hired longtime banking industry executive F. Justin Strickland to serve as President of First Reliance Bank as it continues to expand its presence throughout North and South Carolina. The bank has recently invested heavily in tenured leadership who have spent their careers in the Carolinas and have built reputations as leaders in the industry. 

Mr. Strickland will serve as President of First Reliance Bank, where he will oversee the bank's commercial platform. The latest executive hire in CEO Rick Saunders’ growth strategy, Strickland joins a robust leadership team that is dedicated to further positioning First Reliance Bank for transformational growth. 

Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank, said the following regarding the new hire, “Justin’s expertise, industry knowledge and reputation as a commercial banker are unparalleled. As the last hire in our long term growth strategy, Justin will not ...

Bank Continues to Build New Leadership Team as Market Growth Continues

First Reliance Bank announced today that Brook Moore has been promoted to the position of chief credit officer. Moore will succeed Jack McElveen, who will remain in a credit leadership position with the bank.

Moore and McElveen have nearly twenty years’ experience working together, initially at a Columbia based community bank and later at First Reliance Bank. McElveen spoke to the tenured relationship, saying, “Brook and I first formed a professional relationship almost two decades ago when we worked on a senior management team together. I am excited and pleased to have the opportunity to hand-select him as the next Chief Credit Officer at First Reliance Bank. I have high confidence in his ability to move the company to the next level.”

Bringing in Moore is the latest move by CEO Rick Saunders to strengthen a leadership team that ...

Tabathia Hagan has joined First Reliance Bank as Senior Vice President, Retail Banking Manager for First Reliance Bank North and South Carolina markets.  Hagan is responsible for retail sales and strategic growth  of First Reliance Bank’s branch footprint, and she will oversee sales management throughout that footprint.

Hagan has over 31 years of experience in the banking industry. She began her career in a Charleston credit union prior to joining BB&T where she quickly grew her career in retail banking leading branch managers along the South Carolina Coast.   

Tabathia has extensive experience leading, coaching and directing retail branch teams to develop strong customer relationships.  She understands our culture and community banking and the importance of making a difference in the lives of our customers and the communities we serve,”  said Rick Saunders, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Reliance Bank. “Her sales and  leadership experience ...

Robert Dozier, Chief Banking Officer of First Reliance Bank in Florence, has joined the South Carolina Bankers Association (SCBA) as a Board member. In addition he will act as Chairman of the SCBA’s Political Action Committee.

The appointment is a natural step for Dozier, an industry veteran who brings more than 30 years of experience to his leadership role at the fast-growing, Florence-based bank. As Chief Banking Officer, Dozier oversees the commercial platform and guides corporate strategy and strategic market expansion of First Reliance Bank’s footprint throughout the Carolinas

Prior to joining First Reliance Bank, Dozier served as Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, where he oversaw all external customer facings of the bank, which serves more than 850 financial institutions throughout the Southeast. Prior to that, Dozier served as President and COO of Homeowners Mortgage – a division of Coastal States ...

Walter Reese is the new Vice President of Electronic Banking for First Reliance Bank, where he will be based in the company’s Charleston Operations Center. Reese brings over 30 years of experience into his new role, which focuses on managing and enhancing First Reliance’s digital and online banking technology and platforms.

Reese is responsible for ensuring First Reliance Bank delivers best-in-class digital experiences to its customers, maximizes its resources, and for contributing to the organizations business results and strategic objectives.

A banking industry veteran, Reese has worked both internally, and externally as a consultant, for financial institutions including Wells Fargo, Ridgewood Savings Bank, and most recently for CresCom Bank, where he served as Senior Vice President and Director of Operations. While with CresCom, Reese guided operations for multiple areas of the bank, including card services, online and mobile banking, and internal team management and performance measurement.

Reese has a BSBA ...

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