Mississippi native takes helm of Natchez Regions

Published 1:21 am Sunday, July 8, 2007

NATCHEZ — Regions Bank, formerly AmSouth, has a new and enthusiastic president.

Charlie Speed, a Mississippi native, has relocated to Natchez after a history of working in sales, finances and banking in Waynesboro, Laurel and Hattiesburg.

Speed was born in Prentiss, and he graduated from high school at Prentiss Christian. He attended Pearl Junior College, where his father has been on the board since 1966, then later graduated from USM. His initiation into the workforce was as a sales representative of safety supplies.

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“Sales prepared me to deal with people,” Speed said, referring to his next job that he maintained for 10 years. “Mainly, I was a problem solver for a finance company. Then one day I walked into the AmSouth Bank in Hattiesburg to make a deposit. I stopped to talk to a friend there and instantly became interested in the banking business.”

Speed started at AmSouth as an assistant manager, moved to branch manager, progressing yet again to group sales manager where his responsibility included 14 of the 167 Mississippi AmSouth branches.

“I had a lot of responsibility as the group sales manager. It was my duty to observe branches and find ways to improve processes. I was also responsible for the hiring.”

The next natural step from group sales manager was to the position he holds now — city president.

“I fell in love with Natchez,” he said.

Speed and his wife, Noelle and children, a son, Hagan, 7, and a daughter, Brooksie, 4, were visiting during Natchez’s Mardi Gras festivities.

“My wife actually got me thinking about moving here. She asked me during one of our visits why I couldn’t move us to Natchez,” Speed said. “This seems like the place for families, with lots of activities that bring people in like it did my family.”

At that time, Speed did not consider the move to Natchez an option in his career path. But a man who thrives on challenge, he leaped at the chance to make that change when it became available.

Speed said he interviewed along with several candidates interested in the position, but was fortunate to be selected.

As city president, he is in charge of all bank operations.

“The River Cities’ branches report to me, which include Natchez, Vicksburg and Centreville.”

His goal as the city president is to see the bank as part of the community team that propels Natchez aloft in development. He sees Natchez gaining momentum towards growth with companies such as Rentech commencing that upward process.

“Natchez is a vibrant town,” he said. “Downtown is undergoing change. Natchez is updating, making the place more interesting as well as appealing. My family is fascinated by it. It fits us perfectly.”

Speed brings to Natchez’s AmSouth, 15 years of experience that can benefit a growing, changing market; leadership from managing 14 different branches of banks and the vision coupled with the focus to guide the bank into the future.

He plans on being visible in the community, helping people by becoming personally involved. He wants to take a look at the hurdles that are a part of the community because they are a part of life and assist in finding a way to overcome these.

Speed seems to represent what the AmSouth Company values are and stands behind their creed — “Do what is right. Put people first. Reach higher. Focus on the customer. Enjoy life!”

Speed says that the last one is his favorite.

“People come to me with ideas, business plans and dreams, and sometimes problems to help them resolve. I love what I do. Life’s too short not to be positive.”

Speed replaces Adrian Sandel, who now works for Bad Boy Buggies.