There’s no place like home

Published 1:28 am Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kirk Johnson has deep roots in Dallas County. So deep in fact that while working in Birmingham he received a phone call from local BankTrust executive Ed Livingston that led him home.

“After lots of thought and prayer, it just seemed like a no brainer,” said Johnson, who gave up a position with Red Mountain Bank in Birmingham to become a vice president and commercial lender with BankTrust in Selma.

Johnson, 34, was born at Vaughan Regional Medical Center and grew up in Selma, graduating from John T. Morgan Academy before graduating with a bachelors of science in business from Birmingham Southern College and a Masters of Business Administration from The University of Alabama.

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After a short stint working for his father Philip’s company he took a job with SouthTrust before joining Colonial Bank.

“Then I saw the light and went to a community bank,” he said. “I enjoy working with a community bank because you’re more than just a number and I really like that.”

Although he knew in his heart that returning to his old stomping grounds where his parents and grandparents were raised was what he wanted to do, Johnson said there was still a twinge of fear in making the transition and also explaining to his wife, Meredith, that it would be a good move, especially since they have two small children, Claire and Patrick.

“She jumped on it before I did,” Johnson said. “She was from a small town (Brewton) so she was really excited. And she knows a lot of people here already that she went to college with.”

While many of Selma’s children often leave to find work, only to come home on holidays, weddings and funerals, Johnson said he hopes his family’s return to Dallas County will be an inspiration to other young professionals who have roots here.

“Selma has so much potential and we’re at a point where it can go one way or another,” he said. “I hope I can be an example to some of the younger professionals who want to move back here. I really do think this town can be great.”

BankTrust Area President John Chisolm, who also has deep roots in Dallas County, said the bank is lucky to have Johnson.

“Selma’s future is really going to rely a lot on young people,” he said. “A lot of small communities lose their young people and it’s great to have him back here with his local connections. I hope his coming home will be a catalyst for other young people to return and raise their families and enjoy all the good things Selma has going for it.”

While still in transition mode, Johnson’s first few days at BankTrust have been a “homecoming” of sorts, filled with visits from family and friends welcoming him home.

“They have all been coming by here giving me hugs and telling me how happy they are that I’ve come home. There’s no doubt I’m supposed to be here.”