Local decision-making on business loans sets Hancock Whitney apart in Tampa Bay

Chip Knight, October 29, 2020

Businesses need loans to grow, and a bank with local decision-making on loans is extremely valuable. In fact, this can sometimes be a major factor in whether a business client receives a loan.

Hancock Whitney has two tiers of senior-level banking executives in the Tampa Bay area with significant decision-making authority on loans, setting the bank apart from big banks that require approvals from out of state. This local decision-making also gives Hancock Whitney more flexibility on loan amounts, as opposed to smaller banks that have lower loan ceilings.

Regional President Tim Coop, located in the St. Petersburg office, oversees every line of the bank’s business in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Coop has strong autonomy to make loan decisions about Tampa Bay businesses without going out of state for approvals.

Also, Senior Regional President Eric Obeck, based in the Tampa office, manages all lines of business in four states: Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi. He is one of only three senior executives in the $33 billion bank at this level, and as such, he has one of the highest levels of decision-making authority in the entire bank, providing a unique opportunity for local clients.

Coop and Obeck have been working for more than 10 years with Tampa-based J.H. Williams Oil Co., a petroleum marketer that supplies Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Citgo, Sunoco and Marathon brands to more than 200 service stations in Florida.

J. Hulon Williams, III (center) and his family remain dedicated to running J.H. Williams Oil Co. Inc, started by his grandfather over 70 years ago.  

“I like their philosophy of high-level people who can make decisions quickly,” said company president J. Hulon Williams, III, the third generation to run the company that started in 1947. “I had a very good feeling about Tim and Eric from the first time we met.”

Formerly a client and board member at one of the nation’s largest banks, Williams moved his banking to Hancock Whitney for more personalized service; essentially to be seen as more than just a number, a common issue with big banks. “We receive great customer service from everyone, including top executives,” Williams said.

The oil business is sometimes volatile, he said, noting that his father, J.H. Williams Jr., faced the challenge of the oil embargos of the 1970s. “I’m facing unique business challenges, and my children will face new ones, too,” he said, referring to the family’s fourth generation, his son J.H. Williams, IV, and daughter Rosemary Williams Anderson, who will run the company someday.

“Our business has and always will have peaks and valleys, and it’s important to have a bank that meets a wide range of needs.”

Having senior executives with major loan decision-making authority helps the bank deliver on its value to customers: Providing the power and sophistication of a large bank with the feel and decision-making structure of a smaller bank.

Coop and Obeck often go with loan officers to meetings with potential loan clients to provide senior-level insight. Some of the questions businesses may expect from these decision-makers include

  • What are the various ways you think a bank can help your business?
  • Do you have a business plan with sales and profitability projections and backup for those projections?
  • What are your business strategies to get through the pandemic?

Growing businesses need access to loan decision-makers who live in the same town and take the time to understand a client’s business goals and potential. Hancock Whitney’s business bankers can work with clients for ongoing business needs, whether it’s getting a loan, preparing a business to be eligible for funding, or getting referrals to professionals such as accountants or lawyers.

To learn more about getting a business loan or establishing a relationship with Hancock Whitney in Tampa Bay, visit hancockwhitney.com.