Calera-based bank earns five-star rating

A family-owned bank based in Calera recently earned Alabama’s only five-star rating from two respected bank-rating companies.

Bauer and Bankrate.com issued a perfect rating for the bank, which holds $160 million in assets.

Shane Schroeder, a senior vice president with Central State Bank and a member of the third generation of his family to work at the bank, said he and others at the bank are humbled by the honor.

“We have worked to keep a conservative lending and investment philosophy,” Schroeder said. He works at the main office in Calera, where he is a lender.

His brother, William M. “Mitt” Schroeder Jr., is also a senior vice president and a lender at the bank. Sister, Shanda Watts, is a vice president at Central State Bank and works at its Pelham office.

The bank has a third office, located in Calera near the Shelby County Airport. A fourth location – a drive-through facility located near Walmart in Calera – is under construction.

Central State also operates a mortgage office in Birmingham.

Central State Bank was founded in 1916. Schroeder’s mother’s father, Roy Downs, purchased the bank in 1945. For a time after her father bought the bank, Dorothy Downs Schroeder, lived with her family in the second floor of the bank building, which was located in downtown Calera.

Though Dorothy Downs Schroeder taught third-grade in Calera for a number of years, she basically grew up in the bank. She continues to work there as vice chairman, as does her brother, David P. Downs, who is executive vice president.

Schroeder’s father, William M. Schroeder Sr., is president and CEO of Central State Bank.

“My mother and father met while at the University of Alabama. She was in education, and he was a business major.” Schroeder said. “He started out at First National Bank of Birmingham. When Dad took over here has president, the bank had about $8.8 million in assets. He’s grown it to $160 million in assets since 1971.”

While a number of larger banks have expressed interest in purchasing Central State over the years, that fate has been avoided because the Schroeder family owns about 70 percent of the bank.

“Members of this family have a sincere desire to work here, not only in the bank, but in roles in this community. We are very involved here and that will continue,” Schroeder said. “I was raised here. I went to school here. We are raising our families here.”

In addition to the six members of the Schroeder family at Central State Bank, 15 of its 54 employees have worked at the bank for more than 12 years. One employee, Carlene Hadaway, has been with Central State for 44 years.

“She was here when my grandfather worked here,” Schroeder said.

He said he and family members have been tempted at times to join the bandwagon of rapid expansion, but the family’s philosophy of controlled but sustained growth has kept them on track.

“We could be more aggressive, but we also know that got lots of commercial banks in trouble,” Schroeder said. “We are conservative by nature, and we listen to our federal regulators.”

Schroeder said he and others at Central State Bank have a cooperative relationship with their federal regulators.

“We listen to ours. In 2006, they expressed concern to us over some banks’ safety could be at risk because of speculative lending. We sensed their concern and listened to what they were saying. We were doing some development loans and speculative construction loans at the time, but we backed off of that because of their concern.”