ANADARKO, Okla. - Rod Whitson, Cherokee, recently was named president of the Chickasaw Nation-owned financial institution Bank2.
Whitson, 47, is the former COO of the San Diego-based Townsend Agency and taught at the University of California - San Diego. He is also married with four children.
Whitson has been involved with Bank2 since its inception in January 2000, at which time the Chickasaw Nation allocated $5.3 million to begin its new venture in banking.
Now, Whitson said that Bank2 has ''greatly exceeded'' his original expectations and was actually profitable in its first year of operation. Currently, Bank2 is worth approximately $85 million, according to its current Web site, www.bank2.biz.
Whitson said that his reasons for accepting the position as president of Bank2 include the future opportunities for the bank, ''particularly in Native America,'' as well as the more recent economic development of Oklahoma City, where Bank2 is headquartered.
''There's just a whole lot more opportunity, particularly in Native American home lending and just helping Native American businesses overall with specialized products,'' he said.
As president, Whitson said that his current projects include expanding the role of Bank2 as the primary provider of HUD Section 184 loans, getting involved with government 8(a) contracts, establishing deeper business relationships with tribal governments and helping out the small business owner.
''The main thing I'm working on right now is really expanding the Native American home lending operation,'' he said. ''We're building out a Web site and doing some things that really are going to make it much easier for Native Americans across the U.S. to get a lower-cost Native American loan because of their tribal background.''
Whitson stressed the importance of Section 184 loans to Native households, because he said that those who are applying for housing loans through another program could actually save money.
''If people qualify, it's a substantially better loan program,'' he said. ''The down payments are lower. The credit standards are relaxed a bit. They don't have private mortgage insurance on that loan.''
Whitson said that Bank2 has several new plans and ideas for the small business owner, including ''bringing the branch to their office,'' which includes Web sites and other online tools where check deposits and cash management can happen right inside an individual office.
One of Whitson's major specialties in the area of marketing is the concept of ''branding,'' where a business establishes its reputation, maintains it, and then does its best to be known in more circles. Whitson said that tribal governments and tribally owned businesses could also benefit and grow from this model.
''To me, what having a good brand comes down to is having a good reputation,'' he said. ''If you look at the Chickasaw Tribe, they have an outstanding reputation inside of tribal circles, but then also too with government contracting firms and other people that they do business with. I think it's absolutely critical for tribes to establish a good solid reputation, and it just makes everything that they do so much easier.''