Until a year ago, banker David Page had the same business phone number for 30 years — though the corporate name on his front door has changed four times over the same period.
Chase Bank last July named Page its Oklahoma market president — prompting his move to Oklahoma City from Tulsa, where he's served as market president since 2005; market manager since 2001.
Previously, the Tulsa and Oklahoma City markets separately reported to a regional head, Page said. “But it makes sense for both to report to a state president.
“This way, we make sure our decisions in the market — from loan approvals to philanthropy opportunities — remain local.”
Chase employs 550 statewide.
“I want all of them to have the authority and responsibility to feel good about what they're doing, and to work in environments where they can be their best,” he said.
From his fourth-floor offices in the Chase Tower in downtown Oklahoma City, Page, 60, recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his personal and professional life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your roots.
A: My parents met at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. He was from Fort Worth and she was a Spokane girl. I was born in Spokane, but lived from age 3 to 11 in Vancouver, British Columbia; for two years in Bermuda; and then in a suburb west of Chicago, where I attended high school. My dad was one of the pioneers for Young Life and helped spread the Christian ministry across the borders. I have a brother 18 months older who lives in Des Moines and sister, five years younger, of Omaha.
My parents divorced when I was a freshman in college, and my dad remarried and had another family. I have a half-brother and half-sister in Tennessee. My mother, who'd stayed home with us growing up, went back to school at Penn and earned a master's in sociology.
Q: What was it like living in Canada and Bermuda?
A: Though it rained 300 days of the year, I loved Vancouver. I was in middle school when we were in Bermuda, and literally could ride my bike from one end of the 20-square-mile island to the other. Bermuda has the largest variation of fish; I traded ice hockey (in the northwest) for snorkeling. But I was claustrophobic there and remember having dreams that I was on a Greyhound bus going down an endless highway, obviously longing for the open road.
Q: And high school? Were you a good student?
A: Chicago was terrific. I wasn't a great student. Until college, I was more focused on athletics than academics. I played football, back in the days when you could play both sides. I was a middle linebacker and offensive guard.
Q: What brought you to Oklahoma?
A: TU (The University of Tulsa). The son of one of my mother's girlfriends attended there, and my mom suggested I check it out over spring break my senior year in high school. I did and loved it. I liked that it was a small school and also the warm temperatures that come earlier in the year here.
I paid most of my way through school, so during college I worked 20 hours a week for Continental, loading and unloading baggage.
The upside is during the years I worked for them, including five post-graduation, I enjoyed lots of free flights from long weekends to San Francisco, three trips to Europe and one to Tahiti.
I also learned a lot about dealing with people. There's nothing like being on the other side of a ticket counter from an irate customer delayed six hours because of weather to help you to learn to keep your cool.
Q: How did you get into banking?
A: There was no real advancement opportunity for me with Continental without moving to L.A. So I went back to TU at night to earn my MBA, with a concentration in finance, and reposition myself. One of my professors thought banking would be a good route for me. Upon graduation, I was among a group of 10 hired for a yearlong management development program with First Tulsa, one of our predecessors. I've been with them ever since. I spent 11 years in commercial lending, then headed the international division when we were Liberty Bank and moved back into commercial banking, as division manager, when we were bought by Bank One. Banking has been a good career for me. I like using my analytical skills, but also the people side: developing relationships with clients.
Q: Community banks frequently claim they can offer better service to customers than larger banks. What are your thoughts?
A: I think there's a role for all — community, regional and national banks — to play. Chase wins business when it makes sense, provides value, for customers. Traditionally, community banks do a lot of real estate lending and lending to small businesses and entrepreneurs, and regional banks provide another layer or level of service.
Meanwhile, Chase can handle complex banking opportunities, such as with companies doing business overseas. We also can offer larger companies big credit positions — even in excess of $25 million. At the end of the day, we all need competition. It's what drives us to be better.