Letter – Sad to see Farmers go
Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
I write this letter while purposely playing “The Little Man,” a song by Alan Jackson that recalls the small-town feel of many communities long since dried up that once thrived while being led by small, local businesses.
I can surely imagine the frustration and sadness Dick Holland feels, having seen his family’s multi-generational hard work and longevity wiped away next year as all the signs that proudly bear the Farmers Bank name will be removed, never to see the light of day again.
While I believe strongly in growth of a community, I believe passionately about competition in business. Sadly, the end result here from the Farmers board is neither growth nor competition; it’s become a sellout.
As if our county hasn’t endured enough sellouts of late, namely the previous sellouts who jumped at the chance to give our famous hams to the Chinese, now the last remaining local bank will be stripped of its heritage to bear the name of the most controversial bank in the region. I wonder how long before we have massive bank buildings being built, complete with the Italian marble floors that Towne Bank is famous for?
While I’m not a Farmers customer, I was really happy to see the bank expand into Suffolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. It was like seeing your local guy next door hit it big. Must say, it’s a bit of pride seeing a county business reach out and provide a bit of that down-home experience in the midst of all those big-name “treat customers like a number” financial joints.
Sure, TowneBank is local too, but replete with its share of controversies where local leaders became mired in really bad business decisions mixing banking with local government. Who can forget the scandals involving Virginia Beach’s leaders, and of course the disastrous melee tying TowneBank with the Newport News Airport’s Commission and a failed startup airline that went bust involving $5 million in public money.
Personally, I’m hoping Mr. Holland might be willing to repeat history and launch another bank again. This county is definitely big enough, and competition is good for business. As Alan’s song concludes, “…long live the little man.”
Editor’s note: Holland, according to letters he wrote to shareholders earlier this year, was the one pushing for Farmers Bank to merge with another company.