PHOTO: Mary Lankford stands inside the new F&M Bank branch in downtown Franklin’s Public Square on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, after an official ribbon cutting ceremony. / Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
In the midst of Monday morning’s chill, dozens gathered inside the new F&M Bank at the corner of Main Street and Public Square to celebrate a ribbon cutting and the official welcoming of the business to Franklin.
Begun in Bumpus Mills, Tennessee in 1906, the community bank now operates in 10 counties, including Nashville, said President and CEO William “Sammy” Stuard.
Stuard said the company continues to grow, with a new location coming soon to Dickson County, and another recent opening in Montgomery County.
“We’ve been in this business for well over a hundred years,” Stuard said, “and we plan on being around a lot longer to do business.”
A deceptively small store front facing town square masks the spacious 6,000 square-foot interior of the building, which has long served banks; most recently, Capital Bank.
Though the chamber of commerce, which hosts various ribbon cuttings for new businesses, had advertised minimally for the event, the crowd that turned out was a testament to the new Vice President and Market Manager, Mary Lankford.
Standing in her office fronting Main Street, Lankford mused about the changes she had seen in the 37 years since she began banking in Williamson County.
After graduating from Tennessee Tech University, Lankford said she began working for a bank in Nashville, focusing on lending.
Then, “They didn’t have female lenders,” she said. “It was a man’s world.”
Growing into the banking world, Lankford came to the Bank of Franklin because she had become an expert real estate lender by a young age.
When Williamson County relied heavily on agriculture, she facilitated tobacco and farm loans.
“It was a whole new world for me. I was a city girl that had come to the country,” she said. “Now, look where we are now. We’re a city!”
“This is the office of the queen of Williamson County!” said longtime Franklin businessman Mike Alexander.
Lankford chatted with friends who stopped into her office to congratulate her. “I feel like this is my home,” she said.