The board of directors of Waco-based The First National Bank of Central Texas announced on September 11 that Joe Barrow will become the bank’s chairman and CEO and Sloan Kuehl will serve as president and chief lending officer, effective January 1, 2021. The board reached the decision based on current President and CEO Randy Crawford reaching the age of 65 in early 2021. Crawford will assist with the transition through August 2021. He will also remain on the bank’s board. Current board Chairman Monte Hulse will remain on the board and continue in the role of chairman and president of FCT Bancshares, the sole owner of The First National Bank of Central Texas.
“I hired both of them right out of college, their first job,” Hulse says. “This has been particularly gratifying for me to see their growth and development over the years. Joe and Sloan are good leaders and good bankers. Equally important is their high character and integrity. The bank is in good hands.”
Barrow brings a wealth of banking experience to his new role. He’s been a community banker in Waco for 36 years and for 17 of those years has worked closely with Hulse and Crawford. Since 2009, he has served as president of the bank’s Woodway/Hewitt Banking Center. While developing his own sizable loan portfolio, he also helped lead the bank’s commercial lending efforts. Along the way, he mentored countless young bankers. In 2016, he was appointed to the bank’s board of directors.
Barrow earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas A&M University. He has served on several local nonprofit boards, including chairing the board of the YMCA. Barrow and his wife, Lesa, actively support The Cove and its mission to help homeless teens in Waco. He has served on the HOT Fair & Rodeo board and the finance committee of Ridgewood Country Club. Barrow has also helped raise money for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to be selected to take over the leadership of The First National Bank of Central Texas,” Barrow says. “Mr. Hulse, Randy Crawford, Jim Haller [former executive vice president of The First National Bank of Central Texas] and the late Clyde Martin [former president of The First National Bank of Central Texas] have all had a positive impact on my banking career. Thank goodness I will have Mr. Hulse and Randy Crawford on the board to lean on as we embark on this journey. They have provided sound leadership and set a solid foundation for meeting customers’ needs quickly and professionally. Together with Sloan Kuehl and the excellent management team and staff, we plan to remain the premier community bank in the area.”
Kuehl has worked for Hulse since 1992 when he started in the bank’s mailroom. He quickly transitioned to the credit department and within a few years joined the bank’s team of lenders. Kuehl was a part of the group that helped bring The First National Bank of Central Texas’ presence to Waco in 1996. In the 24 years since, he has grown into a highly respected commercial lender in Central Texas and beyond. For the past five years, Kuehl—alongside Barrow—has jointly managed the bank’s lending activities while also serving on the board.
Kuehl graduated from Mary-Hardin Baylor University. Active in his community, he has been quick to lend his expertise to many local nonprofits. He has volunteered for the Providence Foundation since 2002 and currently serves on the Foundation’s executive committee as vice president. Kuehl, a part-time rancher, is also active in the HOT Fair & Rodeo. He currently serves on the rodeo committee and for years held leadership roles with both the organization’s board and executive committee. Additionally, Kuehl serves as vice president of the H&H Water Supply Corp. board and is currently the vice chairman of the Region 12 Technology Foundation.
“As I enter my 30th year as a community banker, I’m very excited about our leadership team and the opportunities that lie ahead of us,” Kuehl says. “During my time working for Mr. Hulse, I have learned a great deal about leadership, banking and people. His expectation of excellence has not only led to our bank’s success, but also set the stage for our team to continue to achieve great things for our shareholders, employees and community. I’m very honored and thankful to get the opportunity to help guide that future path and continue working with our great staff, as well as the people and businesses we serve.”
Crawford has been a part of Hulse’s leadership team for more than four decades. He was part of the original group that helped move the bank’s headquarters from Mart to Waco in 1996. During his tenure, he has held many vital roles at the bank, including president and CEO. Since Crawford was named president in 2014, the bank’s asset size has grown by more than 45 percent to just over $1 billion.
“His contribution to the growth and development of this bank is beyond measure. I am pleased that we will continue to benefit from his knowledge and insight through his board membership,” Hulse says.
Established in 1901, The First National Bank of Central Texas operates five branches—three in Waco and one each in Hillsboro and Mart.