2023 Champion Award Winner
PROFILE OF A CHAMPION: COLONY BANK
Beyond the Bottom Line
Colony Bank and its CEO Heath Fountain were nominated and selected by fellow Georgia business leaders as a goBeyondProfit Champion for their commitment to serving local communities. Founded in 1975, Colony Bank has grown to nearly 40 offices throughout Georgia, 500 team member, $3 billion in assets, and maintained their commitment as a community bank to those they serve.
“We don’t want to just write a check and walk away,” says Heath Fountain. “We want to be investing in the things that our team members support, that our customers support. The foundation of the community banking system is about giving back and it’s certainly what we try to do here at Colony Bank.”
Excerpts taken from the interview with Heath Fountain, CEO, Colony Bank
More Than Just a Paycheck
I think you’ve seen people really wanting more out of life. What is this all about? The pandemic gave time for people to really do some soul-searching, and I think that’s another reason why it’s important for us to give back and to make sure we’re about something more than just profit and we’re about something more than the bottom line.
As an industry we haven’t done a great job of helping connect people back to this larger purpose, It’s more important to the younger generation than my generation and generations before me. They want to be a part of something bigger, and we really offer that in community banking and here at Colony.
Meaningful Investments in the Community
- Colony Bank Financial Literacy Program: Financial literacy is not taught well in schools. It’s not taught in the home a lot. And so, we saw this big void that needed filling. We feel like that’s a real purpose for us because we’re in the finance business. That’s why we partnered with the Dave Ramsey Organization to provide financial literacy. We’re in about 24 schools and have impacted over 5,000 students.
- Colony Bank Leadership Academy: Colony Leadership Academy is a year-long youth leadership program tailored for high school juniors and seniors. With 40-50 students participating each year, the program utilizes professional leadership trainers through UGA’s Fanning Institute and provides exposure to various industries including business, healthcare, tourism, agriculture, and the military.
- Investing in Rural Hospitals and Schools: What I really like about programs like Georgia HEART and Georgia GOAL is they take potential tax dollars and instead of filtering them through our state government they direct resources right to where they can be best used. In rural communities you’ve seen investment pull back, so this is an opportunity for us to really help where most of our team members live and where most of our customers live.
Implementing Intentional Leadership Across a Dispersed Workforce
I feel like it’s important to be able to describe our culture down to a single page. We have a document we call the Colony Manifesto. It walks a team member, a customer, or a prospective team member through what we’re about at Colony, why we’re here, what we’re trying to achieve as an organization, how we behave collectively, what our culture is all about. It’s really an important part of our culture, our communication, to talk to our team about what we’re doing and who we are as a company.
When your team members feel engaged, when they understand not just that they’re told to do something, but why they’re doing what they’re being asked to do, I think they’re happier, they understand, they communicate better with our customers when they understand why they’re communicating a certain message with our customers.
Where that takes us, I don’t know, but I think we’ll be serving more communities, we’ll be serving more customers, and we’ll have more team members five years from now than we do today.