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Understanding the Needs of People
The founding president of Peoples Bank & Trust Frank Spruill once said that it must have taken a fool to start a bank on April 1, 1931. Peoples defied expectations that day and into the future. For nearly sixty years, Peoples strengthened commerce and community in Rocky Mount and the surrounding areas of Eastern North Carolina.
Spruill not only recognized that a bank needed to "get to know and understand the people," but he also built an institution that effectively responded to their financial needs. Peoples specialized in setting up trusts and other services for farmers in the rural towns surrounding Rocky Mount. As early as 1935, Peoples established three branches – in Nashville, Zebulon, and Whitakers – that brought its business to farmers instead of expecting them to come to Rocky Mount for their banking.
Like other banks, Peoples expanded its customer services following World War II, but it never lost focus on the special needs of farmers. By establishing the Farm Relations and Services Division in 1945, it became the first bank in North Carolina with an agricultural department. It also led the way providing consumer credit, drive-up windows, and automated banking.
As agribusiness transformed farming throughout the region, Peoples retained the loyalties of the people of Eastern North Carolina. In 1983, the year of its fiftieth anniversary, Peoples served more than twenty-eight communities in fifteen counties of Eastern and Piedmont North Carolina and established Peoples Bancorp as the holding company for its subsidiaries. It acquired several more banks, including the Mid-South Bank & Trust Company as an independent and wholly-owned subsidiary. By a "merger of equals" with The Planters Corporation. in 1990, it formed Centura Banks, Inc.
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