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Executive Q&A: Oklahoma City bank president enjoys serving commercial, professional niche

Mel Martin, president of First National Bank of Oklahoma, says the bank remains lean by design, adhering to its motto of “fewer customers, larger relationships.”
by Paula Burkes Modified: October 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: October 27, 2013

Oklahoma City banker Mel Martin and his wife, Julie, a year ago decided to move into a maintenance-free, gated community in west Edmond. Their two children had gone off to college, and Julie continued to commute to El Reno, where she helps run her family's feed, seed and hardware store.

The couple knew if they stayed in their northwest Oklahoma City home of more than a decade, they were facing major needed renovations. Neither could stomach the arduous undertaking — especially Martin, who already was busy with his own corporate building project, as president of First National Bank of Oklahoma.

His branch, in a 4,200-square-foot building at 5625 N Western, is moving five blocks south to a two-story, 11,000-square-foot building under construction at the southwest corner of NW 50 and Western — where it will enjoy greater visibility, a larger boardroom and vault, more teller windows and an extra drive-thru lane.

“Our satisfaction levels are tremendous, so much so that we've exceeded our expectations and continue to grow,” Martin said.

Since it was acquired in August 2002, the bank — which now has three branches in Kay County and two in Oklahoma City — has seen its assets grow from $55 million to $271 million, he said.

The new 5101 N Western building was designed by longtime bank customer RBA Associates and is being built by bank customer Ward Construction. Its grand opening tentatively is scheduled for late May — about the same time Martin will be celebrating his 50th birthday and 10 years with the bank.

Martin sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:

Q: What did your dad do?

A: He worked for the Department of Justice, and retired as a warden of the federal prison in El Reno where I graduated high school. I spent my first five years of life in Long Beach, Calif.; the next five in Bowie, Md., a suburb of D.C.; three years in Leavenworth, Kan., outside Kansas City; and then three years in Ashland, Ky., before moving here my sophomore year in high school. We lived on the prison property, in government housing provided to the warden. My parents, who are both originally from southwest Missouri, are retired and live in Edmond. And my older sister is director of rehab at the OU Medical Center.

Q: Was it rough moving to a new city and state, when you were just starting high school?

A: Not really. My take was I had experiences that others didn't. As a toddler, I remember going to Disneyland and, in elementary school, I went on field trips to Harpers Ferry, W.V.; New York City and Philadelphia, and watched the July 4 fireworks on the mall in D.C. I didn't much care for having to take Oklahoma history with eighth-graders because I needed it to graduate. And I knew nothing about diagramming sentences, but I knew how to write an essay.

Q: What led you into banking?

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Position: First National Bank of Oklahoma president

Birth date: May 23, 1964

Family: Julie Ross-Martin, married 27 years (they graduated in the same high school class, but didn't date until spring of their freshman year in college); children Lauren, 23, of Oklahoma City, and Matthew, 21, of Stillwater

Church home: Christ the King Catholic Church

Housing addition: Muirfield Village

Education: Oklahoma State University, where he earned a bachelor's in finance and joined Delta Chi fraternity

Civic contributions: Oklahoma State University Alumni Association Leadership Council; Teen Recovery Solutions, finance committee; Junior League of Oklahoma City, community advisory board; board member of Youth Leadership Exchange of Leadership Oklahoma City, Western Avenue Association board of directors and Western Avenue Business Improvement District

Pastimes: He attends all OSU football, OSU basketball and Oklahoma City Thunder home games, and enjoys boating on Grand Lake where his parents have a place


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