KINGSPORT — One of the Model City’s major banks is getting a new name: Regions.
However, the new head of operations for Regions Financial Corp. in Northeast Tennessee said the same AmSouth employees will still be there to serve customers at a bank that traces its roots back to First American and, before that, to the First National Bank of Sullivan County.
“Our name is changing, but we’ve got the same people,” David Wharton, president of the Northeast Tennessee market for Regions, said at the soon-to-be-renamed Regions bank building near Church Circle downtown.
He said the six-story building, built in 1982 at 415 Broad St., houses most of the bank’s administrative offices for the Tri-Cities, including an office he maintains there. He also has an office in Johnson City.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ranks the bank as No. 2 in the Tri-Cities in deposits as of June 2006, with deposits of $743 million or 11.1 percent of the market. It has more than 290 Tennessee branches and nationwide has about 1,900 branches and $140 billion in assets.
Wharton said the Tri-Cities is a competitive banking environment, with more than 50 banks and credit unions.
“Our history as a company is in Sullivan County and Kingsport. Our core client base is in Kingsport. We have been known as a Kingsport bank, and it’s my intention to continue that.”
The bank employs about 200 in the greater Tri-Cities and has 18 openings with no recent layoffs, he said.
Offerings include Regions Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. division brokerage; business, commercial and consumer banking; and mortgage services. Human resources and administrative offices also are in Kingsport and the Tri-Cities.
“Just about all AmSouth customers will keep their account numbers,” Wharton said. “We’re calling ourselves the new Regions.”
The new “life green” logo is already over banks in Alabama and Florida, while Mississippi and Louisiana will join Tennessee in the Oct. 29 name change. That includes all 16 Northeast Tennessee and far Southwest Virginia banks. Others in Virginia and the rest of the 16 states will change in November.
Wharton on Aug. 1 started overseeing AmSouth/Regions banks from Jefferson County, Tenn., and Morristown to Washington County, Va. Morristown has three existing Regions banks and Jefferson City one.
All customers of both banks can use their ATM cards at any Regions or AmSouth location, but they won’t be able to make deposits, withdrawals and loan payments until Oct. 29. Brokerage, trust and other financial services have been merged incrementally earlier this year.
Wharton said he’s familiar with the Kingsport market because he used to come here about once a month in his old job with AmSouth. Wharton most recently managed the Morgan Keegan trust group for the East Tennessee area of Regions and was based out of Knoxville. He has more than 18 years of experience in the financial industry.
Among changes coming to the bank in the future, Wharton said, the branch at the old Kings-Giant Plaza on West Stone Drive will be moving into the new Holston Medical Group office building under construction there.
He said the Stone Drive branch near East Stone Commons will remain, and a new branch is slated to open Nov. 5 at Exit 7 of Bristol, Va., with a grand opening set for Dec. 8.
Wharton has been with AmSouth in Knoxville for about five years. A native of North Carolina, he worked for Wachovia before that. Wharton said his move to the Tri-Cities, which is under way, puts him closer to his and his wife’s families in North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., and he completed the Certified Financial Planners Certification Professional Educational Program from the College for Financial Planning in Greenwood Village, Colo.
Wharton and his wife, Krista, have two sons.
On the Web: www.regions.com.