SAN ANGELO, TX — John Mark McLaughlin still goes to work everyday at the bank he co-founded, Texas Bank, at 2201 Sherwood Way. Sitting in his office last week after a celebration of the bank’s 60th anniversary the night before, he reflected on the the year the bank was founded, 1963.
McLaughlin is not a San Angelo native. Born on Oct. 24, 1930, he grew up in a ranching family in Scurry County on what was known as the Diamond M Ranch. From there, he attended military school and after that the University of Texas. He married his college sweetheart Amy Johnson in 1954. Then he went on to earn a law degree from UT Law.
After law school, McLaughlin served in the U.S. Air Force as a Judge Advocate in the base Judge Advocate General, or JAG, office at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls. After leaving active duty, he went to work for the the Texas Attorney General.
“I handled some disputes with the Railroad Commission,” McLaughlin recalled. He also ferreted out corruption with public contracts with counties.
“You know, like price fixing on bids for county roads,” he said.
At the TAG, McLaughlin fondly recalled working anti-trust cases and fighting statewide corruption where he found it.
While working in Austin, the McLaughlins kept in touch with his college buddy Bill Marschall. Marschall was from San Angelo and invited the McLaughlins to consider opening a private law practice together in downtown San Angelo and by the early 1960s, the McLaughlins arrived in San Angelo to settle for good.
The law partners saw opportunity in banking when, as McLaughlin recalled, the three incumbent downtown banks, Central National, First National, and San Angelo National Bank, did not seem too interested in the sprawling growth towards the southwest of the city, down Sherwood Way. New businesses there were beginning to thrive. The banks were owned by out-of-towners and were not watching the trends, McLaughlin recalled.
McLaughlin specifically mentioned the success of retail establishments in the relatively new The Village Shopping Center two miles southwest of downtown. By February of 1963, Marschall and McLaughlin had purchased a corner lot next to The Village and built the first bank on the edge of San Angelo’s suburban sprawl.
Location was key to the partners’ success. Merchants in The Village no longer needed to drive downtown to render their daily deposits. Convenience was not the only strategy McLaughlin saw as leading to the bank’s early success.
“We always knew that if we took care of our relationships the business will follow,” he said.
McLaughlin and Marschall also worked hard. Through the years, McLaughlin never served as an officer of the bank. Instead, he remained on the board as a director. But he said he looked for bank leadership who would be amenable to his vision and mentored them. For example, for McLaughlin, getting lucky is not an act of randomness.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” he said. “Business requires long hours and hard work.”
McLaughlin maintained a schedule not considered bankers’ hours, but from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. weekdays. Saturdays he said he would put in a half day.
“No more than 30 minutes for lunch,” he advised.
He reminisced about daily lunch at Furr’s Cafeteria in downtown San Angelo across from his law offices in the McBurnett Building, 103 S. Irving St. There he said he could get a quick bite to eat and maintain his fast-paced regimen.
Casey Barrett is the current President of Texas Bank. McLaughlin said he and the board sought out Barrett to replace the retiring President Gary Cox. Cox is now the bank’s chairman of the board.
“We identified Casey as a knowledgable, trained and ethical progressive banker,” McLaughlin said.
Barrett, 42, and a graduate of Texas Tech, has a broad resume of experience. He was a county agent for the Ag Life Extension Service, business manager for Ben Stribling, and banker.
When Barrett was asked to consider assuming the reigns at Texas Bank, he said he was concerned that it would appear that he was moving from job to job too quickly.
“Don’t worry,” McLaughlin told him. “We’ve been here since 1963 and you will be only our third president.”
I have had a long relationship with Texas Bank. Great service, great people. I have always loved going in there and dealing with the people. I will maintain a relationship with them until my attorney deals with my estate.
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