Our Story

One of the South’s fastest-growing financial institutions did not originate in a large, metropolitan area or grow with the usual bank business plan. Community Bancshares of Mississippi, Inc., formerly Farmers and Merchants Bank, started more than 100 years ago in a small timber community in east central Mississippi and has grown by employing a unique approach to one of America’s most routine industries. From 1995 until today, with few acquisitions, Community Bancshares has grown from $200 million in assets and a couple of offices to more than $2.6 billion in assets, 44 offices and over 700 employees in four states.

The Model

Community Bank’s window of opportunity came in the 1980s when the organization was faced with three distinct challenges that many banks face even today: how to create big bank services and economies of scale while maintaining the advantages of being a true, local community bank; how to find an innovative way to continue to improve in customer service; and how to compete with the aggressive expansion of competitor banks’ branches. Community Bank’s ultimate answers to those challenges helped fuel tremendous growth that today spreads the organization’s reach across four Southern states.


First, to create big bank synergies, Community Bank decided to establish separately chartered banks that operate independently but share services within a common holding company. Unlike most banks which have a central office that dictates policy to branches, this structure gave Community Bank the best of both worlds — pooled resources that can afford expensive technologies and services and local decision makers empowered to act with the community in mind.


This structure not only helps Community Bank offer true community banking, but allows for better trained management as well. Many banks have their quality people serving as branch managers or division directors under the direction of a central office where these people gain little true executive experience in running a bank independently. At Community Bank, CEOs operate their banks independently as true executives—overseeing their bank’s loan portfolio, managing deposits, directing different bank functions, providing leadership in their community, making strategic competitive decisions in their marketplace, working with their own board of directors, and negotiating shared services with their sister banks. This creates a highly effective training ground for leaders.


In an effort to allow all of the bank CEOs to participate in the decision making process for the system and as a way to foster creativity, a combined management meeting is held once a month. At this meeting, holding company management and all bank CEOs are represented. Policy is debated, decided, and delegated at these meetings, and CEOs are given the opportunity to not only represent their individual bank interests, but also to shape the direction of the entire banking system.


Second, in an attempt to gain a unique edge in the never-ending battle to outperform the competition in the area of customer service, Community Bank took an extraordinary step. Unlike some banks whose retirement programs require an employee contribution before providing a match, Community Bancshares established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Under this plan, all eligible staff members are fully funded a percentage of their total compensation each year which is invested in the bank’s stock. The move not only provides a comfortable nest egg for Community Bank staffers, but also gives them a vested interest in bank performance — particularly in how their own customer service delivery could enhance the bank’s bottom line and, therefore, their own bottom line.


Lastly, when faced with bank competition whose strategy was to build branches on every street corner and find employees to fill it, Community Bank’s response was simple — do the opposite. Community Bank answered by building community headquarters in a few strategic locations, providing customers a superior staff, and taking the money saved and translating it into better rates for customers. The strategy has helped Community Bank surpass its competitors in efficiency by routinely carrying more assets per office than other banks in the South.

Our Team


Thomas W. Colbert

Senior Chairman of the Board, Community Bancshares, Inc.


Freddie J. Bagley

Chairman of the Board, Community Bancshares, Inc.


Charles W. Nicholson, Jr.

President and CEO, Community Bancshares, Inc.


David M. Hughes

Chief Operating Officer, Community Bancshares, Inc.


Darrell Brown

Vice Chairman of Administration, Community Bancshares, Inc.


Wyman Jones

Vice Chairman and Chief Credit Officer, Community Bancshares, Inc.


Timothy P. Gray

Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer


Bobby Knox

Chairman of the Board, Community Bank, Ellisville


Justin Martin

Chief Executive Officer, Community Bank, Ellisville


Gregory A. Moore

President and CEO, Community Bank of Mississippi


Oliver Latil IV

President & CEO, Community Bank Coast


Mike Webb

President and CEO, Community Bank of North Mississippi


R. Jonathan White

Chief Information Officer, Community Bancshares, Inc; President, Community Operations, Inc.



Thomas W. Colbert is named president and CEO, becoming Mississippi’s youngest bank CEO at the age of 28.


Farmers and Merchants Corporation is incorporated as Mississippi’s first-ever bank holding company.


Thomas W. Colbert becomes chairman of the holding company.


Freddie J. Bagley is named president of the holding company.


The holding company changes its name to Community Bancshares of Mississippi, Inc.


Farmers and Merchants changes name to Community Bank of Mississippi.

Community Bancshares acquires Merchants and Manufacturers Bank of Ellisville, Mississippi.

Community Bancshares acquires Peoples Bank of Mississippi based in Indianola.


Community Bancshares forms Community Bank, Coast in Biloxi, Mississippi.


Community Bancshares forms Community Operations, Inc., a whollyowned subsidiary of the holding company that serves the operations needs of its member banks.


Community Bancshares forms Community Bank, DeSoto County in Southaven, Mississippi.


Community Bancshares is named one of Mississippi’s fastest-growing private companies by the Mississippi Business Journal’s annual survey.

Community Bancshares forms Community Bank, Meridian in Meridian, Mississippi.


Community Bancshares surpasses the $1 billion in assets milestone.


Community Bancshares acquires First National Bank of Lucedale in Lucedale, Mississippi.


Community Bancshares acquires Security Bank in Amory, Mississippi.


Thomas W. Colbert is inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.

Chuck Nicholson named chief operating officer of Community Bancshares.

By combining Community Bank, DeSoto County and Community Bank, Indianola, Community Bancshares moves into Tennessee by forming Community Bank NA (National Association) and opening an office in Memphis.


Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal.

Community Bancshares joins with local investors to open a bank in Destin, Florida.

Community Bancshares surpasses the $2 billion in assets milestone.


Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the second year in a row.

Community Bank, N.A. in Indianola and Community Bank in Amory join forces to create Community Bank, North Mississippi.

Community Bank is named one of the “Fast 40″ by the Mississippi Business Journal for being one of the top privately owned businesses in Mississippi.

Community Bank, National Association, headquartered in Lucedale, joins with Community Bank, Coast, headquartered in Biloxi.

Community Bank, National Association, opens office located in Mobile, AL.


Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the third year in a row.

Community Bank is honored with the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award.

Community Bancshares opens state-of- the-art operations center in Brandon.


Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the fourth year in a row.

Community Bank, National Association opens office located in Daphne, AL.


Community Bancshares joins forces with Investment Professionals, Inc. to form their own investment group Community Investment Professionals.


Community Bancshares, Inc., acquires 100% ownership of Community Bank of Florida.

Community Bank, National Association in Alabama and Community Bank, Destin, in Florida merge with Community Bank, Coast.


Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the seventh year in a row.

Community Bank, Coast, opens new headquarters office in the Springhill area of Mobile, Alabama, and opens new office in Fairhope, Alabama.

Community Bank, Coast, purchases and opens a full–service banking office in Crestview, Florida.


Community Bancshares, Inc. Board of Directors announces succession plan for senior management of the holding company. Plan names Thomas W. Colbert as Senior Chairman of the Board, Freddie J. Bagley as Chairman of the Board, Charles W. Nicholson, Jr., as President and Chief Executive Officer, and David M. Hughes as Chief Operating Officer.

Community Bank of Mississippi opens Lake Harbour office in Ridgeland, Mississippi.


Community Bank, Coast, purchases and opens a banking office in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Community Bank of Mississippi opens Spillway office in Brandon, Mississippi.

Start a new career at one of American Banker magazine's Best Banks to Work For.


“Community Bank is the only bank that I have really felt was interested in me and the success of my business.”

— Russ, Community Bank customer in Central Mississippi