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Rick Saunders and Edwin Lesley
Rick Saunders and Edwin Lesley

Edwin Lesley, Chairman of the Business Development Corporation of South Carolina, recognized First Reliance Bank’s excellent performance during their Annual Meeting on May 5, 2022. Rick Saunders, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of First Reliance Bank, accepted the Participating Partner Award for 2021 for the Greatest Number of Loans Approved in 2021 on behalf of the bank.

Saunders said of the award, “I was surprised to receive the award, one that recognizes everyone’s instrumental role in helping our business customers with their PPP loans last year. I have been proud of how our team accepted the challenge and showed tremendous courage to dig in and help the businesses in our communities. I’m proud to serve on the South Carolina Business Development Corporation board that helps businesses across South Carolina succeed, and I am most proud of the team that I represent behind this achievement!”

Michael Edens and Brent Mackie present The Golden Nail Awards
Michael Edens and Brent Mackie present The Golden Nail Awards

First Reliance Bank is pleased to sponsor the Golden Nail category for this year’s Columbia Chamber of Commerce Impact Awards. The Golden Nail Award strives to spotlight the dedication of outstanding organizations and individuals that make the Columbia region a vibrant place to visit, live and do business. First Reliance Bank recognizes the business or property owners who have made exemplary contributions to the physical characteristics of the greater Midlands region through cosmetic or commercial means during the previous calendar year. This year’s Golden Nail awardees are Smoked Restaurant, Hood Construction, Lucas Group, and Midas.

Martha Cooper, Vice President Residential Lending Specialist
Martha Cooper, Vice President Residential Lending Specialist

Martha Cooper has joined First Reliance Bank as Vice President Residential Lending Specialist. She will be based in Winston-Salem and will help customers with their mortgage financing needs and identify the bank products that can best meet those needs.

“We are thrilled to welcome Martha to our mortgage team,” said Rick Saunders, Founder/CEO of First Reliance Bank. “She is an excellent mortgage lender, and her knowledge of the Piedmont Triad market will be invaluable to our clients.”

Chuck Stuart, President, of First Reliance Bank Mortgage Division, said, “Martha is well known and has an impressive resume of experience in the Piedmont and Triad market. Her passion for mortgage banking will complement FRB’s dedication to delivering highly personalized service. We look forward to the contributions she will make to the growth and success of our business clients and the bank.”

Martha brings more than 15 years of mortgage and residential lending ...

Melinda Blake, Branch Manager
Melinda Blake, Branch Manager

First Reliance Bank announces the promotion of Melinda Blake to Branch Manager of the Mt. Pleasant branch, replacing Weston Peters, who has moved to the bank’s commercial banking division. Melinda will oversee the branch operations, including managing resources and staff. 

“Melinda is a solid leader in the Mt. Pleasant financial marketplace,” said Rick Saunders, Founder/CEO of First Reliance Bank. “She is an outstanding banker with skills to manage our staff to deliver excellent customer service.” 

Melinda brings more than 20 years of financial services experience. She began her banking career training mortgage brokers and transitioned to teller and banker where she has demonstrated solid leadership. She most recently served as a Client Experienced Banker with a local bank before joining First Reliance Bank as Assistant Branch Manager in 2021.


First Reliance Bank is pleased to announce the promotion of Michael Edens to Market President of Columbia; the relocation of Brent Mackie, Regional Executive, to the Lexington market; and the hiring of Casey Goodrich as Senior Vice President, Relationship Banker for the Columbia market.

Michael Edens, an industry veteran with more than two decades of experience, most recently as a Commercial Banker, will serve as Market President. He will be responsible for the expansion of the Columbia market as well as oversee sales management and community development.   He earned a B.A. in Finance from Wofford College and completed Louisiana State University’s Graduate School of Banking program in 2006. Michael received the Outstanding Young Banker Award in 2008, the highest award recognition from the SC Bankers Association.

Brent Mackie, Regional Executive, has moved to the Lexington market where he has established a customer base and is well known ...

Zach Brown—Vice President, Director of Customer Solutions and Asset Management
Zach Brown—Vice President, Director of Customer Solutions and Asset Management

Zach Brown has been promoted to Vice President, Director of Customer Solutions and Asset Management. He joined the bank in 2017 where he served as Vice President, Default Management and Call Center. In his new position, Zach will oversee the management of the bank’s Customer Care Call Center, Facilities, Collections, and Special Assets.

“Zach Brown continues to excel in elevating our customer interaction processes along with our asset management,” said Rick Saunders, Founder/CEO of First Reliance Bank. “He is a dependable and trustworthy leader.”

Ben Brazell, Executive Vice President of Retail Banking said, “Zach is a great leader who mentors his team for professional growth and who strives to continuously improve his knowledge and skills. He doesn’t hesitate to take on more challenging work that provides value and supports our bank’s purpose.”

Zach brings more than 16 years of financial institution experience to his management role. He received a degree ...


First Reliance Bank is pleased to announce three top-level executive promotions to Senior Vice President. Ross Foshee, Senior Vice President and Controller, John Lindley, Senior Vice President, Director of Operations, and Robert Mayhue, Senior Vice President, Information Technology.

Foshee is charged with overseeing the bank’s accounting and financial reporting operations, including the design and implementation of the company’s internal control framework. A native of the Pee Dee, he is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in South Carolina who received a Bachelor of Art in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of South Carolina.

Lindley leads Deposit Operations, Loan Operations, and digital banking, overseeing, creating, and implementing process improvements to drive operational efficiency. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Erskine College and is a graduate of the South Carolina Bankers School and the OMEGA Commercial Lending School.

Mayhue is responsible ...

Justin Strickland, President (Rt),   Frank Bullard, Corporate Community Relations (Lt)
Justin Strickland, President (Rt), Frank Bullard, Corporate Community Relations (Lt)

First Reliance Bank is pleased to announce that Justin Strickland, president, and Frank Bullard, corporate community relations developer, were recognized among the 2021 50 Most Influential business leaders by Columbia Business Magazine and Charleston Business Magazine.

The annual awards recognize and honor each region’s most influential leaders nominated by community members and magazine staff

Strickland oversees the overall commercial platform for the Carolinas-based bank. He also is a prominent Columbia community member and has held leadership positions such as the committee chairman for the Board of Financial Institutions and a member of the executive committee for the Lexington Medical Foundation.

Bullard was recognized in the Charleston area for his role as market president. He oversaw the strategic expansion of the bank’s Charleston market through managing sales and community development. Recently, he was promoted to lead corporate community relations for the bank’s South Carolina and North Carolina regions. Bullard also ...

First Reliance Bank Promotes Two Senior Leaders

First Reliance Bank is pleased to announce Blake Dressler has been promoted to Charleston Market President and Frank Bullard to lead Corporate Community Relations across the bank’s South Carolina and North Carolina footprint. The advancement of these two leaders will help continue the bank’s unprecedented growth and significant expansion in the Southeast.

“Frank and Blake’s long-standing reputation as best-in-class bankers with unparalleled expertise has been an invaluable benefit since they first joined First Reliance Bank. They understand exactly who we are as a company and see the pathway forward to growth and market expansion,” said CEO and Founder of First Reliance Bank, Rick Saunders. “I am excited to see their continued success in their new roles.”

The promotions of Dressler and Bullard come as First Reliance Bank looks to continue its substantial period of record growth. With plans to continue expanding across South and North Carolina and offering new services ...

First Reliance Bank is proud to announce that Robert Dozier, Jr., president of First Reliance Bancshares and chief operating officer of First Reliance Bank, has been appointed to serve as South Carolina’s representative on the American Bankers Association (ABA) Government Relations Council (GRC). The national association is responsible for representing the interests of banks of all sizes across the country, as well as their two million employees.

Dozier is a tenured banking professional with over 31 years of experience in the industry. Prior to joining First Reliance Bank in 2020, Dozier served as executive vice president and chief business officer for Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBA). Dozier oversaw all customer facing departments of the bank including the government and industry relations department. FHLBA is a $80 billion dollar wholesale bank that serves over 850 financial institutions throughout the Southeast.

Dozier currently serves on the South Carolina Bankers Board ...