Community Banker Spotlight

John Sellers

Banking is in his genes

John A. Sellers
Marketing Director and CRA Officer, City National Bank, Sulphur Springs

He avoided fate as long as he could, but ultimately, he found himself in a position dictated by his genetic predisposition. John A. Sellers is the marketing director and a CRA officer at City National Bank in Sulphur Springs.

Sellers is a multigenerational native of Sulphur Springs but ventured off during his college years to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in public relations and advertising. He sought to forge a different career path than the one that was fated for him in his hometown.

Following his time at Tech, Sellers moved to the big city of Dallas to pursue a career in advertising at the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Business Journal and General Telephone (now Verizon). He decided to return home to Sulphur Springs to attain a Texas teaching certificate so he could share his love for history with students. A few years later, back in his hometown, he was summoned to be a banker.

The calling

18 years ago, a friend of Sellers and the now-President of City National Bank, called him with an offer to join the bank’s team. Upon this offer, the Sellers family of bankers grew by one.

Sellers’ father, mother and brother have all established themselves as bankers in Sulphur Springs. His parents both worked at City National Bank, but his father later transferred to Alliance Bank, where his brother became the CEO and currently serves as Chairman of the Board.

“After working a couple of years in the loan department, the senior management of the bank decided that the marketing of the bank needed attention. We were expanding and the continued growth of the bank initiated the need for someone to be responsible. I was appointed as the director of marketing,” Sellers began. “My job is always challenging, and I enjoy it. I love being out in the community representing the bank.”

Unique marketing

Sellers utilizes various forms of media to market the bank, ranging from traditional methods such as newspapers, billboards and radio, as well as digital platforms including social media and online advertising. He is recognized within the Sulphur Springs community as the “voice of the bank.” When tuning in to the local radio station, it is his voice that serves as the distinctive advertising presence for the bank.

“We use the expression, ‘We’re your neighborhood bank for today and tomorrow,’” Sellers emphasized the bank’s philosophy. “We also use the phrase ‘Banking Texas since 1889’ because it is important for people to know we’ve been around. We must be doing something right to be 135 years old.”

Navigating bank marketing presents challenges, primarily because all banks often provide similar services. Sellers highlights the significance of establishing a distinct identity for the bank. He shared, “We’re part of a small community and even though the bank has a billion dollars in assets now, we still try to market and connect with our local community. We still know people by name, greet people when they come in and use community type of advertising.”

As the Latino community grows in the area, Sellers notes the bank’s initiative in conducting Spanish-speaking seminars aimed at educating those individuals about the home buying process. As an advocate for financial literacy, he sees the importance of spreading knowledge beyond the confines of the bank’s premises, including outreach efforts at schools and senior citizen centers.

Sellers is a regular participant in TBA’s annual Texas Financial Literacy Summit. Having attended the Summit for the past 18 years since commencing his career in bank marketing, he attests to its enduring value. “It’s an event that’s worth attending every year because there’s always new material.”

A newfound passion that ties into Sellers’ role is traveling. For more than five years, he has served as the director of the bank’s travel club, CNB Destinations. Under his guidance, the club initially embarked on smaller excursions within the state before expanding its horizons to cross state lines. They have now ventured into international travel with trips to Italy, Iceland and Ireland — and their upcoming destination is Spain.

Distinguishing itself from other bank travel clubs nationwide, City National Bank’s travel club welcomes participation from individuals regardless of their banking affiliation. “One thing that has paid off is that some of the non-customers who have traveled with us have become customers after their positive experiences with our travel club,” Sellers said.

Elected office holder, genealogy and other involvement

A multifaceted individual, Sellers also holds the position of Mayor of Sulphur Springs. Having served on the city council for 13 years, he operates within a governance structure dating back to the 1940s, where the council appoints the mayor. “I’ve had the privilege of serving seven different times during my term, and I’m now the longest serving mayor, not consecutively, but of terms.”

In his spare time, amidst his various responsibilities, he finds enjoyment in delving into family history research. He enjoys the opportunity to share his expertise through speaking engagements and seminars on genealogy, providing guidance on effective research methodologies.

Sellers also finds pleasure in outdoor activities, particularly hiking alongside his wife of 28 years, Kim. The couple owns a lakefront cabin situated outside of town where they can unwind. Their son, Eli, along with his wife, Arielle, are stationed at a military base in Washington where they too enjoy the outdoors.

Who is an inspirational or influential figure in your life?
My parents. Unfortunately, they are both deceased now. But I had the joy of having them for a long time, and they were great parents.

What is your favorite book?
I’m a big college football fanatic and I love the Texas Tech Red Raiders, but I’m also a Dallas Cowboys fan and kind of a Texas Rangers fan.

What is your favorite quote?
From my mother, “Don’t ever burn a bridge because you’ll never know when you might run into that person or need that person again.”

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would love to be able to sit down with some of our former presidents of the United States. But because I’m interested in family history and have done a lot of research on them, I would like to sit down with my deceased great-grandparents and get perspective on their lives and what they know about their ancestors.

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