YUKON — Yukon National Bank was founded 100 years ago, and the same family is running the bank today that established the business back then with $25,000 in assets.
“It's been our family — not too many banks can say that for 100 years,” bank President Randy Wright said. “My great uncle and great-grandfather founded the bank. My grandfather ran it, and my father ran it. Now I'm running it, and my sister is working here.”
Wright said he never felt like he was destined to run the bank, although he always was involved in family businesses when he was growing up.
The bank has five locations, including offices in Mustang and Bethany, but remains tightly connected with the Yukon community, Wright said. Those connections have helped the bank survive when others did not, he said.
“We have customers that will pay us when probably a lot of banks in the United States, their customers would not,” he said.
With his family history spanning the same century as the bank's, Wright's knowledge of the bank's troubled times spans decades from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of 2008.
The bank was founded in 1912 to help local mill workers cash their paychecks more quickly.
Canadian County's recent explosive growth has boosted the bank's business, which remains profitable as it now focuses on land and construction, Wright said.
“Even in these tough times, and there have been some people who are struggling right now, it's been a good area here,” Wright said.
Willingness to work
Wright, in a practice handed down from generation to generation, still drives around his hometown regularly to keep up with the local growth.
“It's surprising to see something new start — a new business or building,” he said. “It's really interesting how Yukon and Mustang and Piedmont have changed. But the people haven't changed.”
Wright and his siblings were instilled with a willingness to work at a tender age, spending time in the local flour mill or working the wheat harvest with family friends. Among his earliest work experiences was operating equipment to lift and empty a large truck at age 9 — without permission.
“Boy, my dad chewed me out,” he said.
Wright became a hometown hero when he was named Oklahoma high school basketball player of the year in 1976-77 at Yukon High School. He was a four-year starter for the Oklahoma State Cowboys basketball team, and remains an avid supporter of the local schools and OSU.
“It all comes back to community,” he said.
Wright expects to see many familiar faces at the bank's centennial celebration Thursday.
“We'll see a lot of people we grew up with and respected,” he said. “They're kind of like the silent majority who made Canadian County strong.”
Wright's sister, Carolyn Henthorn, who also is an executive vice president at Yukon National Bank, said the family's long connections to the bank and the community are reflected in the customers.
“A lot of the old-timers are very loyal,” Henthorn said. “Not only do they still have their accounts here, but their kids and their kids' kids. We're opening great-grandchildren's accounts.”
Added Wright: “This is home. I've traveled a lot, but you always come back home.”
If you go
Yukon National Bank will host a party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at its main branch at 401 Elm in Yukon. The celebration will include two contests: one recognizing the oldest customer in attendance and another for the person in attendance who has been a bank customer the longest. There also will be activities for children. Refreshments will be served at all bank branches.