CUMBERLAND — Patrick M. Frawley, founder and CEO of Cumberland-based Community & Southern Bank is one of six children who grew up in Falls Creek, Va. His father owned a paint business that was a true family affair.
“We all started working in fifth grade,” he said. “We grew up with paint brushes in our hand.”
He helped out in the store on weekends. In sixth grade Frawley took on multiple paper routes, delivering the Washington Post in the morning and the Washington Daily News and Evening Star in afternoon — a job he kept through high school.
“There is something about being out at 4 a.m. when everyone is sleeping,” he recalls. “You are out there by yourself. … You learn to be independent and self-sufficient.”
Frawley described his family upbringing as “middle class at best,” an environment in which everybody had to earn money.
“We all pitched in and helped the family,” he said.
That meant no free ride when it came to earning a college education.
Frawley, in fact, was the first in his family to go to college. He worked three jobs, 90 hours a week during summers to pay tuition. While taking classes, he held various part-time jobs, including maintenance, pumping gas, cooking at McDonald’s and assembling telephones at a telephone plant.
“It was good experience to appreciate money and the value of a dollar,” he said. “There are no shortcuts to get anywhere.”
After graduating in 1973 from Campbell University in North Carolina with a degree in business, where he got a job as an assistant national bank examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the part of the treasury that regulates banks.
He was promoted to supervisor and moved to three different cities, eventually landing in Atlanta. In 1983, he was promoted to director of bank supervision for the Southeast to oversee six states.
“That was a fun job dealing with problem banks and big banks,” he said. “I got very good with meeting with boards of directors.”
Becoming a turnaround expert
In 1986, Frawley joined the private sector as senior credit manager at Citizens & Southern National Bank in Atlanta. The bank went through a series of mergers to become C&S/Sovran, NationsBank and finally, Bank of America. Frawley spent 15 years with the mega-banks, leaving as head of regulatory relations and chief compliance officer.
In 2002, Frawley took over a troubled bank near Birmingham, Ala., as chairman and CEO, cleaning up the bank and watching five former employees go to prison.
“I raised $25 million in capital and sold the bank — everybody doubled their money,” he said. “I was then dubbed as a turnaround expert.”
That success led him to open a consulting firm that assisted banks with severe regulatory and operational challenges. Frawley said during the course of advising failing banks, he realized he could do a better job.
He partnered with an investor, spent 15 months getting a charter and formed Community & Southern Bank.
In 2010, he bought failing banks in Carrollton, Ellijay and Winder. Today, the bank has $2.6 billion in total assets — the sixth largest in the state — with 40 branches and 570 employees throughout Georgia. The bank’s headquarters are on Cumberland Parkway.
“Having watched a lot of train wrecks over the years, one of our goals is pristine credit,” he said. “We know we are doing things the right way. … We will continue on that path.
“Our goal is to build a franchise out of the ashes of the failed banks. … We are focused on our people and the communities.”
Mark Kanaly, partner with law firm Alston & Bird’s financial services and products group, says Frawley cares about building genuine, enduring relationships with his team and his customers.
“Combine Pat’s talent for building and maintaining meaningful personal relationships with a strong work ethic and a lot of hard-earned experience and expertise, and you get a guy who is a respected leader and a terrific banker.”
COBB EXECUTIVE PROFILE: PATRICK M. FRAWLEY
- TITLE: Founder and Chief Executive Officer
- AGE: 61
- EDUCATION: B.B.A, 1973, Campbell University, Buie’s Creek, N.C.
- FAMILY: Married, two adult sons, two teenage daughters
- FIRST JOB: Helping out in his dad’s store on weekends in the fifth-grade; Paper routes in the sixth-grade.
- HOBBIES: Hunting, primarily deer, elk, birds; spending time with my wife and children; cutting wood.
- LESSON LEARNED THE HARD WAY: There are no shortcuts in life.
- ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Stay focused on a goal, get your hands dirty and be loyal to your employer.