Having joined Southwest Bancorp Inc. just seven months ago, Mark Funke is settling into his new role as president and chief executive of the $2.2 billion publicly-traded holding company for Stillwater National Bank and Trust Co., and Bank of Kansas.
In mid-March, Funke and his leadership team rang the closing bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City in honor of the company's 20th anniversary as a public company (trading symbol: OKSB) on the Nasdaq exchange. Last month, Southwest Bancorp held its annual shareholders meeting in Stillwater, where leaders announced first-quarter earnings of 13 cents per share, on target with analysts' predictions. And Tuesday, Funke left for Boston to visit with investors and potential investors.
“Being the CEO of a strong growing Oklahoma public financial institution is something I've always wanted to do,” said Funke, who previously worked 28 years with Bank of Oklahoma. “It's quite an honor to take all the things I've learned over the years and help build a company with a great brand, Oklahoma roots dating back to 1894, and a world of opportunity before them.”
Funke said Southwest Bancorp is well-positioned for the future, “after our board two years ago made the important decision on the bulk sale of $300 million dollars worth of nonperforming assets.”
Moreover, community banks are agile enough to “still hold customers in front of process,” he said.
Southwest Bancorp has 23 locations across Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, and employs 425.
Funke, 57, sat down with The Oklahoman on Monday to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your roots.
A: I grew up in Wichita. My dad was a dentist and my mom was a homemaker. I'm the youngest of four, with three sisters, who are four to 14 years older. From the time I was 6, I swam competitively and in high school, was an All-State athlete in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle. I was awarded college scholarships for swimming, but I didn't take them. By the time I graduated high school, I was burned out.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: Kansas State University. My father wanted me to be a dentist, but dentistry never took with me. I had a hard time putting a Band-Aid on. I taught swimming lessons in college and originally thought I wanted to be a P.E. teacher and coach. But the summer following my freshman year, I had lunch with my Uncle Harry, my dad's first cousin who was a bank executive. He suggested I pursue a business degree and, while I was at school, work for a bank to see if I liked it.
Q: What was your first job in banking?
A: I started that next school year, as a teller at a bank in Manhattan, Kan., where I worked throughout college. I took classes in the mornings and worked every weekday afternoon and on some Saturdays. I liked interacting with the people who came in, and feeling like I was doing something responsible. I learned to be responsive and think on my feet, to quickly serve the customers at the front of the line, who many times had two to three people behind them.
Q: And after graduation?
A: My wife Beverly and I skipped graduation and instead got married that day. We didn't go on a honeymoon but moved to Houston, where one week later we both started jobs. I was in a training program with a large bank there, Republic Bank. Houston is a great town. We lived there six years, and had our first child there. But both of us wanted to move back closer to our roots. Beverly grew up in northwest Kansas in Norton, where my in-laws, both 87, still live. My parents passed away in 1997.
Q: What are the highlights of your career with Bank of Oklahoma?
A: I joined BOK (Financial) in Tulsa in 1984 to manage their lending group in northeast Oklahoma and parts of Missouri and Arkansas. In October 1986, I moved to Oklahoma City following BOK's purchase of Fidelity Bank, where I managed commercial banking. In the six years that followed, which were difficult times for the banking industry in Oklahoma, I learned a lot, and was able to work with George Kaiser, a well-known financier nationwide. In my 28 years with BOK, the bank grew from $1 billion to $28 billion and expanded to eight states. When I left, I was market CEO in Oklahoma City and managed the bank's Arkansas operations and government relations.
Q: Obviously, Stillwater National Bank has close ties to Oklahoma State University. Do you have any ties to OSU?
A: No, both of my kids graduated from OU. But I'm great friends with Burns Hargis (OSU's president). Q: What's it like having a last name that's pronounced “funky?”
A: Of course, I was teased as a kid, but I've learned to like it. It's unique. The logo on my golf balls is Funke Monkey. My daughter, Annie Funke — a New York actress who recently was nominated with Jake Gyllenhaal as best off-Broadway actors for a play they did together — loves the name because it's memorable. Meanwhile, my daughter-in-law's maiden name was Gross, so she was excited to marry into the name Funke.
Mark W. Funke
Southwest Bancorp Inc. president and chief executive
• Birth date: Oct. 9, 1955.
• Family: Beverly (married 36 years; they were set up on a blind date to his Alpha Tau Omega fraternity party); children, Bill Funke, 30, of Norman, and Annie Funke, 27, of New York City.
• Housing addition: Oakdale Farms in Edmond.
• Education: Kansas State University, bachelor's in finance; University of Houston, graduate coursework in business administration; and Rutgers University, a graduate of The Stonier Graduate School of Banking.
• Community involvement: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and the Oklahoma State Chamber, board member; Allied Arts Foundation, Lyric Theater of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation and the YMCA of Oklahoma City, current board member and past board chairmen for each; United Way of Central Oklahoma, board member and former campaign chairman; and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, finance and audit committee.
• Pastimes: golfing, swimming, gourmet cooking and travel. He, Beverly and a couple of friends are bound for France this month.