Texas: Happy State Bank’s Hickman Honored as Hero and Legend by Independent Bankers Association of Texas

The Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) has announced that J. Pat Hickman, chairman and CEO at Amarillo-based Happy State Bank, is one of the two newest additions to the IBAT Wall of Heroes and Legends of Texas Community Banking, which is located at IBAT’s headquarters in downtown Austin. Hickman was recognized with this honor during IBAT’s 44th Annual Convention held September 22–25 in San Antonio.

The Wall of Heroes and Legends is reserved for those who have significantly contributed to the strength of community banking in Texas. Hickman is the epitome of this description. Happy State Bank staff and directors donated $50,000 to Hickman’s Wall of Heroes campaign, about which he knew nothing. Funds raised will go to the IBAT Education Foundation, working to fulfill its mission of “Building Financially Literate Communities Across Texas.”

Hickman began Happy State Bank in 1989 when he found 10 families who were willing to join him in buying First State Bank of Happy, which was the 812th largest bank in Texas at the time. In 2018, Happy State Bank was ranked the 20th largest bank in Texas with assets of $3.4 billion. Also in 2018, Forbes magazine named Happy State Bank the Third Best Bank in Texas and 26th Best Bank in the Nation.

Just as important as the bank’s success throughout the years is the culture Hickman personally cultivated. When Happy State Bank was created, Hickman penned 20 core values that all employees are taught—and are as relevant today as the day the bank’s doors opened. The bank’s environment is built around ideals such as “Family First,” “Laugh at Work” and “Attitude is Everything.” The book Non-Negotiable: The Story of Happy State Bank & The Power of Accountability was written about the bank, its culture and Hickman’s leadership style by Sam Silverstein, one of the country’s top organizational culture professionals.

More than 30 of Hickman’s employees, board members and family surprised him at the IBAT convention when he was presented this honor. Chris Williston, IBAT president and CEO, and Julie Courtney, IBAT Education Foundation president, bestowed the honor to Hickman.

“To know Pat is to understand that the golden rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you—is the guiding principle of his leadership,” Courtney says. In addition to his role at Happy State Bank, Hickman has served on the IBAT board of directors and as chairman. He was the IBAT Chairman’s Award recipient in 2010.

The other new addition to IBAT’s Wall of Heroes and Legends is Scott Heitkamp, president and CEO at Corpus Christi-based ValueBank Texas. We will cover his induction and career in the next issue of Bankers Digest.

Published in Bankers Digest October 15, 2018