Colony Bank Location in Savannah Would Have Been Dream Come True for Late Market President

Kim Wade

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

For Drew Hulsey, getting into the banking business at a young age was a no-brainer. The Metter, Ga. native says his dad was a CPA and his mother was a banker, so he naturally fell into banking after he graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1984. 

“I ended up working for my dad at his CPA practice in Matter and he put me in a room with no windows and had me doing taxes all day, and I quickly learned I didn’t want to go that direction,” he said with a laugh. “I got a job with C & S (Citizens and Southern) Bank (in Savannah in 1985) and went through their training program.”

During his career, Hulsey has also served banks in Atlanta, Jacksonville, Valdosta and Macon. Hulsey is now a market president with Colony Bank at their Hodgson Memorial Drive location in Savannah. His bank is one of two Savannah-based locations for Colony Bank, and he is excited about plans to open a new location in downtown Savannah. The new location is not only a sign of growth for the bank, but also a realized dream of his predecessor and friend, the late Tommy Hester.

“The driving force behind the downtown location goes to Tommy Hester,” Hulsey explained. “He died about a year ago, and he was my predecessor; he hired me and we came here together. When we came here, the mission was to kind of clean up the bank a little bit and grow it.  And, unfortunately, Tommy died, but his vision was simple; you can’t really be a Savannah bank without a location downtown. He looked for that location for a couple of years.”

Unfortunately Hester won’t be able to see the new branch open, but his wife Monica Mastrianni is one of the architects with Greenline Architecture working on the project, so she and Hulsey have been able to collaborate on the project to bring Hester’s dream to life.

Hulsey said the new downtown branch is located in the 200 block of Drayton St. where the shell of a former 1920s gas station now sits. 

“We went to the historical society and got an old photograph of what the building originally looked like,” he explained. “The architects at Greenline were able to utilize a lot of the look of the place.” He said the stucco building will keep the barrel tile roof as well as other distinguishing features like the arches and entryway and round lights from the era. “It will have an art deco look and feel.”

The inside layout includes a special community room that will be used during bank hours for meetings, property closings, business breakfasts or other social events. There will also be three offices and the building has an upstairs space for future expansion.

The new branch manager is Gibson Hill, one of Colony Bank’s commercial lenders, and Colony Bank’s  Kate Rott will also join him at the new location along with two tellers and a customer service representative.

“It just makes a lot of business sense to be downtown,” Hulsey said. “This is a fantastic location that will be easy for customers to get in and out. We have tons of parking and we will be in the heart of downtown businesses and activity. “

And Hulsey added that while Savannah may be considered a smaller market compared to other larger cities, it is unique in that is has a dynamic and diversified economy.

“You’ve got the port, you’ve got SCAD (Savannah College of Art and  Design), you’ve got a beautiful downtown that draws the tourists, and we have the military. All of that together really smooths out the economic downturns. 

“We also have a great climate … and people want to move here and live here. … I’ve lived in other Southern towns that are of this size, and they are not as diverse as Savannah and that adds quality of life. … I think that’s one of the things I enjoy most about Savannah.”

When asked if other market presidents are jealous of his post in Savannah, Hulsey is quick to shake his head, no.

“I don’t brag about Savannah with the other market presidents. I like to keep this a well-kept secret.”