by Cathy McKinzie, Director of Operations
Since the beginning, one thing that’s always set Heritage Trust Company apart is the quality of our personalized service. We focus on building long-lasting relationships with our clients and take seriously our fiduciary role to put their needs first and foremost. Working with clients takes a special skill set — one that,
truthfully, I don’t have. I know my personality, and I know I wouldn’t be a good client-facing person. Working with numbers is what I enjoy— I like the structure of making things balance.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve realized that employees, like myself — who clients may never meet but who work equally hard behind the scenes — play our own vital
roles in Heritage’s success.
The common thread in my career, both at Heritage and before, is that I sometimes move into new job opportunities based on the strength of my working relationships with my colleagues. My respect for Ron Bowles, who later became a senior vice president at Heritage, led me to join him in 1987 at Liberty Bank in Oklahoma City, as a trust securities processing manager.
Many of Heritage’s initial employees came from Liberty, where I worked until shortly after it was bought in summer 1997 by a large national competitor. At the time, we were a tightly knit operation with strong, long running relationships with many of our clients.
There was no reason to start changing things; yet, over a period of several months, the new management gradually sectioned us off and began changing our internal structure.
In spring 1998, my job in Oklahoma City was eliminated and I was given the option of moving to branches in Columbus, Ohio, or Dallas, Texas. My daughter was in high school, so neither of those options were ideal.
One of my colleagues at Liberty, Mike Carroll, had already started exploring the idea of starting an independent trust company in collaboration with the
Payne family. They invited me to come aboard at what would become Heritage Trust Company. I liked and trusted Mike, so I knew even if this new business didn’t succeed, it would still be run with integrity. Saying yes was easy.
As with any startup company, we flew by the seats of our pants for the first several months. Each of us took ownership of several aspects of the business, even ones for which we weren’t normally suited. Because I have an accounting background, I handled payroll. I’m also an office supply nerd, so that was one of my jobs as well.
There were seven of us working together day in and day out. It sounds hectic, but it felt easy, because even when things got stressful, you knew you always had the
support and help that you needed.
Mike, former senior vice president Don Balaban and Ron Bowles were on the phone with clients every day, telling them what our vision was. Many of our clients
from Liberty Bank came over to Heritage based largely on knowing and trusting these gentlemen.
As Heritage has grown over the years, we’ve expanded into areas including oil and gas, mineral management, real estate management and institutional services. My job responsibilities have changed as well, and I’m now the head of a three-person operations department.
In operations, we take pride in knowing that the information we provide to clients is correct. We record their income, settle trades and provide them with accurate statements. We’re even picky about spelling errors.
I’m proud to say that I work for Heritage. Our clients have always been our core, so everything revolves around doing what’s best for them. When clients call, we don’t have to ask for things like account numbers because we know all our accounts by name.
As we look forward to the next 20 years, I feel confident our company identity and vision are as strong as ever, and we’re well equipped with the knowledge and
experience to keep delivering the level of service that our clients have come to expect.