Montie Taylor has been in Parsons for 50 years, and all of those 50 years he has worked in banking, a milestone his colleagues feel is worth recognition.
Reflecting back, the vice president/senior relationship manager of Great Southern Bank said he had no idea he was going to be in Parsons that long.
“It’s amazing to me to think about,” Taylor said of what transpired, altering his plans. “I went to Pittsburg State. I got out of school and I kind of thought I wanted to go to law school. I kind of dinked around and didn’t get into law school that particular year, so I thought, ‘What do I need to do?’”
He decided to get a teaching certificate, and that would be his safety net he could fall back on if he needed to. He began student teaching at Parsons Middle School in 1973.
“When I went to school at Pittsburg, I was on a basketball scholarship, and after I graduated, I came over here and I’m student teaching and a local guy by the name of Paul LaForge asked me to play on some of his city league basketball teams that he sponsored. I said, ‘Sure Paul, I’ll be happy to do it,’” Taylor recalled. “He took a liking to me and Paul and a couple of his partners, Jim Scaletty and Ernie Miller, had ownership of the old Peoples Savings and Loan. Paul, one afternoon, came up on the third floor. I remember it like it was yesterday. He came up and he said, “Hey, we’ve got this job opening I think you would be perfect for.”
He applied, though he didn’t really know what he applied for, and he got the job.
“I was going to make X dollars a month. That’s all I knew. That was exciting,” Taylor said. “I was a poor kid. I grew up real poor and didn’t have any money, and so I was thinking, ‘What can I do to at least get by?’ That’s how that all started. I got into the business then.”
He worked in mortgage lending for three or four years and he rose up through the ranks, becoming senior vice president. It was an extremely trying time, he said, as there were a lot of things going on in the savings and loans at that time.
“I have people come in now and they complain about interest rates going up to 7.5 or 8% today. That particular generation of people they don’t want to remember what it was like,” Taylor said. “When I started in the business, interest rates were around 6%. This would be 1973. By 1979 through about 1981, they were about 15%. Then they went back down. Then of course, the last couple of years, rates have been extremely low, but that is not reality. It’s uncommonly low. And where we are today is actually a customary rate range.”
At any rate, he toughed it out and spent 13 years in the savings and loan business and then in 1986, he had a chance to buy in to the old First National Bank and Trust Co.
“I bought in. Mortgaged my soul to the devil it seemed like. Nevertheless, I became president of the First National Bank. I stayed in that position up until my partners, Murland Taylor, Eugene Rexwinkle, Gary Seaton, all really great guys, wanted to do some estate planning, so we sold the First National Bank to Team Bank and became part of the Team Bank organization then. That was in 1992,” Taylor said. “We were Team Bank until 2009 and then, of course, Great Southern acquired Team Bank. I’ve been with Great Southern for 14 years now I guess.
“It’s been an interesting ride for me. I’ve worked with and for some remarkable people. I’ve seen some remarkable things happen in the last 50 years. I think it still boils down to this business is a service business. You have to provide good service to your customers and if you don’t provide good service, there are too many choices out there. They can go anywhere and replicate whatever it is they might need,” he said.
The last 14 years, not only has Taylor been involved in what goes on in Parsons, he has had the opportunity to work in other markets, from Paola to Neosho and Joplin, Missouri. When not devoting time to his work, he gives back on a consistent basis through his involvement in serving on various boards and civic organizations.
“I just want to see things happen in our community. In the end when you leave this world you like to think in a little bit of a way, you left it better than when you came into it,” he said.
Those are areas in which he tries to remain behind the scenes, not seeking recognition. Even now, he said, this celebration was not something he encouraged, but colleagues thought the honor was well deserved.
They have planned a reception for Taylor at Great Southern Bank at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23. There is an open invite to the public to stop by for the reception and an award presentation, so people can drop by and congratulate Taylor or even take a minute to reminisce.
“It’s been a really neat experience. I’ve met some really dynamic people. When I look back, I don’t think I would change anything. I had a great upbringing as a kid. I had great parents and great family members. They were always supportive of me. We didn’t have any money, but they were always very supportive of me. I have appreciated not only the family encouragement, but the many, many people that as I look back I didn’t realize they were mentoring me, but they were,” he said of those people behind the scenes who pushed him along, encouraged him and mentored. “That is what I feel Parsons did for me. You get in trouble if you go naming names. There were so many mentors who encouraged me and advised me along the way. I’ve hopefully taken lessons from all of them.”
Despite having contributed 50 years to banking, Taylor said he has no plans to retire any time soon. He thinks he has at least a couple more years to give, but 10 would be a stretch.
“I really enjoy what I do. I really do,” Taylor said. “It’s a real opportunity to help people, not just in Parsons. I’ve been blessed over the last several years to be able to work a rather large area for our company. I’ve really gotten to know some dynamic people along the way. It’s really fun. It really is.”
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