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A tribute to family leadership

United Bank, which was first chartered as The Bank of Zebulon in 1905, is a business success story and success in business ‘“ particularly in banking ‘“ requires great leadership. Today, United Bank operates 18 branches in Zebulon, Barnesville, Milner, Williamson, Covington, Griffin, Jackson, Locust Grove, Madison, Newnan and Locust Grove. That growth is the result of leadership and good business sense. Jim Edwards, who chairs United Bank Corporation, is the grandson of Bank of Zebulon founder Joel Edwards and the son of Joe and Pat Edwards of Barnesville. To say he has banking in his blood would be an understatement. He also has a sense of humor. During the recent business downtown, United Bank was, for a time, the most profitable bank in Georgia. ”Thats kinda like being the tallest midget in the room,” Jim quipped. Last month Jim became chairman of the Georgia Banker’s Association. He followed in his father Joe’s footsteps in accepting the GBA gavel. There has only been one other father-son duo to lead GBA. Mills B. Lane Sr. was founding chairman of the organization in 1892. In 1941, he was followed in the office by his son, Mills B. Lane Jr. who, as president of C&S Bank, was the most influential banker in the Southeast for generations. The junior Lane singlehandedly saved the Savannah historic district through his benevolence and business acumen. In accepting his new office, Jim Edwards paid homage to the Lanes and noted he was in the audience in Boston in 1988 when his father was elected GBA president. He asked his parents to stand and had these words to say: ”We’ve all heard the old saying ‘you can’t pick your relatives’ and that’s certainly true but I’ve always felt incredibly lucky to be able to call Joe Edwards my father.” Jim also paid tribute the company’s chief operating officer Doug Tuttle, praising him as a mentor and friend. Family businesses struggle to persevere. Often it is the third generation that sells them off or runs them into the ground. That is not a danger with United Bank. It is built around the Edwards family ‘“ a family of leaders that surrounds itself with good people and goes above and beyond to give back to the communities they serve.

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