My name’s Bob Chapman and I’m with Bank of the James here in Lynchburg, Virginia and we started Bank of the James back in 1998. So, I had recently moved to town just about three years prior, and was finding that a lot of events that I would go to or people talking on the street that Lynchburg needed a local bank, and being a relative newcomer to Lynchburg I figured that certainly someone would start a bank. I mean it made perfect sense. The long and short of it is that never materialized and myself and cofounder Todd Scruggs, we went out and recruited a Board of Directors. It took us about six months to do that. We quit our jobs at a former bank and began the task of organizing and applying for a charter for Bank of the James. I think a lot of people sometimes have preconceived notions that entrepreneurship is exciting and fun and always successful, because a lot of times you’ll hear from these entrepreneurs at the time in their business cycle that things have succeeded. But, I think a lot of times folks maybe think it’s kind of fun and exciting, and it is very much so that way, but it’s not for the faint of heart because when you choose to start a business that you’re responsible for on many fronts as I’ve said earlier, you know, it can really become your life. I think that you hear all the stories, the companies in Silicon Valley, and other companies that started in garages and it sounds interesting and fun and it is at the time but it’s certainly not to be underestimated as to what it takes to create something from scratch basically, and make it successful, and make it successful in the long run. I think sometimes that people who delve into entrepreneurship underestimate that part of it, but again, I would certainly take my hat off to anyone that takes on the challenge because it certainly would be one of the tallest challenges one has undertaken. I guess the best advice I can give someone for starting a business here in Lynchburg is make certain the best that you can in your planning, and in your analysis and forecasting of revenues and expenses, try to make sure you have enough equity capital into the project. So many good ideas that would be wonderful returns on investment die after two or three years because the business runs out of capital. So, one of the things I would suggest in your planning and your analysis to start a business is be real conservative on how you estimate expenses meaning estimate them high. And on the revenue side maybe be a little bit harder on what you really think you could do so that your planning can be as accurate as possible. You’re always going to have surprises when you start a business, 100% of the time there is going to be a surprise, and usually that surprise is going to cost you some money. So, I would say that to the degree you can do your homework, really try to take time to analyze your idea and what you think would be successful. In any community, whether it’s Lynchburg or wherever, just take the time to think through and do the analysis on what you think you can do realistically years one, two, and three. It’s hard to really forecast out much beyond that, but it’s hard to forecast sometimes six months from now, but try to do that the best that you can, because I’ve seen in my career in banking so many good businesses that had good basics, good people, great ideas after about the second or third year they just run out of steam because they didn’t have enough capital up front and also have their expectations for return in line. And secondly, Lynchburg has a lot of business activities and opportunities to get out in the community and introduce yourself and try to build a network and I would say that to the degree you can do that outside of your business time would be time well spent. This is a word of mouth town, and so if you’re out trying to start a business and get things going try to build that network and do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. That would go a long way for someone that wants to operate in this part of the world.
About Bob Chapman
In his capacity as President and CEO, Mr. Chapman is responsible for the strategic direction and the day-to-day management of the bank. Mr. Chapman was instrumental in forming Bank of the James in 1999 (co-organizer); was named President of Bank of the James in 2003 and President of Bank of the James Financial Group in 2004. Prior to joining the bank, Mr. Chapman was Vice President and Commercial Account Manager at Crestar Bank for 15 years. He is a 1984 graduate of Virginia Military Institute where he received a bachelor's degree in Economics. Following graduation, he served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army. Mr. Chapman is also a 2002 graduate of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Stonier Graduate School of Banking. Active in the community, Mr. Chapman currently serves as President of the Lynchburg City School's Education Foundation, is a member of the Board of Advisors for the School of Business and Economics at Lynchburg College, serves as a board member for The Centra Foundation and is a volunteer for The United Way of Central Virginia.
|Date Added||February 3, 2017|
Welcome to the Launched In Lynchburg Series! Each month, we feature a different local entrepreneur. This month, we're featuring Bob Chapman, President and CEO at Bank of the James.
Bank of the James
Bank of the James was founded in 1999 as we watched many of our local banks being taken over by large corporate banks and institutions. We saw the level of service and quality of banking available to our community erode as decisions were being made in other states, and customer service was defined by an automated message at the other end of a toll-free number.
When Bank of the James opened its doors, it brought together many of the area’s finest bankers. From a start-up team of 12 employees and 10 directors, the Bank has achieved the reputation as being one of the area’s leading financial institutions. Today our Company has more than 100 employees, 12 members serving on our Board of Directors and over 40 business men and women who serve on our regional advisory boards.
At Bank of the James, we’re committed to restoring your faith in banks. We combine experienced knowledge of the banking world with an intimate understanding of the communities in which we live and work. We’re unencumbered by the layers of bureaucracy that plague large institutions. We make all of our decisions at the local level which means you get answers quickly so you can move forward with your life and plans.
We focus on relationships first. By getting to know you, we’re able to find solutions that let you meet your goals and fulfill your dreams. We’re creative and understanding, plus we have the flexibility to customize loans and provide financial solutions that suit your situation.
Knowing that convenience is important to you, we offer innovative products and services, such as online banking, mobile banking, and remote deposit capture, so you can bank from anywhere in the world. In addition, our fees and interest rates are very competitive.
What really defines us is our team. Experienced, professional, and extremely approachable, our executives and staff are also immersed in their communities, where they donate time, energy, and expertise to local charities and organizations.
We’re making a difference – in banking and in our community.