Name: John D’Angelo
Position: President and CEO, Investar Bank
Hometown: New Orleans
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting from LSU
Why did you decide to start a bank?
Three community banks sold in Baton Rouge within a year of each other in 2004/2005. I felt that there was a community bank void in the Baton Rouge market.
What was your previous occupation before starting a bank?
[I had] twenty-four years of financial industry experience. This included KPMG, Peat Marwick; Hibernia National Bank and a national mortgage company.
What year did the bank open?
How has Investar grown over the years?
Investar has grown from five employees located in a trailer on Perkins Road to 185 employees, 11 branch locations and a corporate headquarters on Coursey Boulevard.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
As the bank has grown, I am extremely focused on maintaining the “Investar Culture” in all the markets that we serve.
What is one thing about your job that people would be surprised to learn?
Even as the bank has grown to 185 employees, I still meet with a majority of our new hires before they start working with Investar.
As Investar grows, how do you maintain the community-bank culture that made it so successful?
The Bank has a mission, vision and values statement that is a guiding force. Each new employee is introduced at an orientation to our history. This lays the groundwork for our expectations. These expectations are reinforced daily by our actions, decisions and strategy.
What experience proved particularly useful in preparing you for your work at Investar?
Since determining my major at LSU, I was preparing for the Investar opportunity. Each position I took over the ensuing years, by design, was hopefully preparing me to run an organization. There is no one job role, but cumulatively all of my experience positioned me to start, run and maintain an organization.
How did the business get its name?
From the very beginning it was clear to me that we wanted to develop an organization that would “Invest” in the communities in which we serve, our customers and our employees. We also knew that we wanted to be one of the top performing companies in our industry. The name Investar combined all of those objectives.
What sets Investar apart from other community banks in the area?
I am a fan of community banks. Community banks serve a very important role in markets throughout the United States. Each of us offers a relationship and customer appreciation that you do not sometimes see with larger national banks. Having said that, not many banks have the personal investment that so many of our employees have made in purchasing stock in their organization. We are owners and act like it each and every day.
What are your next goals for the business?
At Investar, we do not set size goals for ourselves. We do not have to beat our chest about how big we are or how much market share we own. We are more focused on continuing to provide top-notch services and relationships to our customers. I have always felt the rest will take care of itself.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities at Investar?
As the president and CEO, I am responsible for all phases of the operations. Since the IPO [initial public offering], more of my time is spent with investor relations, strategy and supporting our employees.
Baton Rouge has seen a lot of bank mergers recently, and banking culture has evolved with advances in mobile banking. How do these things impact Investar?
At Investar, we believe that it is the customer’s decision as to how they want to interact with the bank. We love technology and offer all of the technology bells and whistles that any other bank offers. However, equally as important: We always love visiting with our customers that decide to bank in person.
What is your most satisfying professional accomplishment?
I have been blessed with many accomplishments during my career. Of course, starting the bank and the IPO were milestones. However, the most satisfying professional accomplishments today are providing opportunities to our employees. It is so rewarding when we promote our employees to new positions and help them advance both professionally and monetarily. I love our team, and watching individuals grow and flourish with our organization utilizing our culture is as good as it gets for me.
What is a great piece of advice you’ve personally received? Did you have occasion to put it to use?
I have received advice from so many wonderful mentors, family and friends over the years. Two that stand out are as follows:
- There will be many disappointments throughout your career with organizations, people and employees. The strong managers and successful leaders manage those disappointments and understand that things are never as good as they seem or as bad as they seem.
- The best deals are made on the buy. Never overpay.
I have absolutely utilized both pieces of advice in my career.
What other leadership roles do you hold in the community, and/or what volunteer efforts do you support?
I am currently the chairman of the board for Neese Industries, which is an international company located in Gonzales, Louisiana. I was recently appointed to the Louisiana Commerce and Trade Association Board, which is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am the chairman of the board for Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area. I am the past chairman of the board for the Baton Rouge Symphony.
What is your favorite way to spend your time?
I have four very young children ranging in age from 12 to 6. I love my family and attempt to spend as much time as possible with them. They keep me very busy.
What is an item on your “bucket list”?
Visit the old country. I would like to tour wineries in Italy.
If you could have any job other than your own, what would it be?
I love my job. I created it, so it is exactly what I always wanted.
Where is your “go-to” spot in Baton Rouge?
Church. I am thankful for my many blessings in life. Church offers me the opportunity to thank God for those blessings and teach my children to do the same.