F&M Bank sees changes in personnel
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Oct 01, 2013 | 1566 views |  0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jim Smallwood, right, shakes David Hedgepath’s hand. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
Jim Smallwood, right, shakes David Hedgepath’s hand. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
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Farmers & Merchants Bank, with locations in Piedmont, Jacksonville, Anniston and Oxford, has been in business for almost 100 years. It opened in 1915 in Piedmont and occasionally experiences personnel changes.

That’s what’s happening at the bank now.

Senior vice president and Piedmont native Jim Smallwood, who has been with the bank for the past 23 years, will retire at the end of December. Replacing him is Jacksonville native, David Hedgepath Jr.

Smallwood graduated from Piedmont High School and has a business degree with a minor in finance from Jacksonville State University. He paid his way through JSU by playing drum in bands.

“When I got through college, I continued with that for a while,” said Smallwood. “Then, I decided I needed a profession. I though there were three major professions -- medicine, law and banking. I didn’t want medicine or law, so I went into banking.”

Smallwood was 30 and had never gotten that lucky break that musicians hope for.

“Drummers are only as good as the band they’re with,” he said. “I never did get with that right band to make it professionally. I thought I’d better use my education and get a real job.”

Smallwood, who will be 61 in November, said he always knew he’d not work after he turned 62. He and his wife, the former Nikki Owen, who has been the revenue commissioner in Cleburne County for the past 18 years, have a house on the beach and a 200 acre farm in Heflin, which will keep him busy.

His parents are Era Smallwood of Piedmont and the late Henry Smallwood.

Smallwood said he knows he’ll miss working at Farmers & Merchants.

“I’ve always told everybody that working at Farmers & Merchants was better than having a real job,” he said. “Never once did I get up and dread going to work. I always looked forward to it. I love the folks I work with and those who come into the bank. It’s really a family there. People who come to work there almost never leave. They retire from there. I’ll miss them terribly.”

Farmers & Merchants chairman and CEO Lin Latta said that Smallwood has been an integral part of the bank’s team since his arrival in 1990.

“During his tenure he has held many responsibilities, including senior lender, compliance officer and managing several departments,” said Latta. “His career has contributed to the overall success of the bank, and we thank him for his loyalty and service.”

Hedgepath graduated from Pleasant Valley High School in 1986. He received a marketing degree with a management minor from JSU in 1991. He’s been at Farmers & Merchants since July.

In his position of being in charge of the Piedmont branch, lending to both businesses and consumers will be the major aspect of his job.

Hedgepath said he’s looking forward to meeting those who live in or near Piedmont, and he’s also looking forward to becoming involved in community activities.

He and his wife, the former Tara Bonds, who teaches first grade at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, live in Jacksonville. Their daughters, Abby, 16, and Maggie, 12, attend Pleasant Valley School, where they play baseball and volleyball.

Hedgepath is the son of David and Linda Hedgepath. He is on the finance committee at First Baptist Church of Williams.

Hedgepath has worked in banking for the past nine years. He worked for the Boys Scouts over 13 years. Since that job required him to move every few years, he decided a job in banking would allow him to keep his family in one place.

Hedgepath said he’s excited about the opportunity he was given to work at Farmers & Merchants.

“Farmers & Merchants Bank has been around a very long time,” he said. “It’s a family-owned bank with a great history. I’m looking forward to my job.”

Latta expressed his excitement about the addition of Hedgepath.

“Our employees are the reason for our success, and David’s experience and knowledge will contribute to the continued success of our bank,” Latta said.

Farmers & Merchants is located at 116 Ladiga St., E., in Piedmont, 1130 Pelham Rd. S., in Jacksonville, 1429 Quintard Ave., in Anniston and 35 Ali Way in Oxford.

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.
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Special to The Star

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