GBA Member Profile

Jake Cleghorn
Chief Lending Officer
Altamaha Bank and Trust Company, Vidalia, GA
At Large, 2021-2022 GBA Agriculture Committee

Q: What was your first job, and was there a lesson you learned there that you still use today?
A: My mother was a school teacher and she worked every summer with her sister to haul and sell watermelons and cantaloupes at the Cordele Farmer’s market. We would then go into the fall harvesting, cracking, and bagging pecans to sell during the holiday seasons. The work ethic, relationships, marketing, and economics I learned during those early years still impact my career today. The work helped me pay for my college education, but it is now I realize I was being educated during those early years just the same.

Q: What is the most useful piece of advice you received from a mentor?
A: A mentor once told me, “You are going to see people on the best days of their life and the worst days of their life, on the richest days of their life and the poorest days of their life. It is how you treat them before, during, and after those peaks and valleys that makes you a banker.” You treat every person the same no matter if they are in valley or on a peak, and you will build a reputation that will have people calling you instead of you calling on them. I truly hope to prove this theory true throughout my career.

Q: Tell us about one experience you’ve had that exemplifies being a banker, such as a service story that really helped a customer or a quirky story.
A: Twenty years ago, a young married couple came into my office. They had made some poor decisions and were in over their head in vehicle debt. They had an earnest desire to fix this, and we worked together to structure a plan. Since that time, I have financed both of them to start successful businesses, three homes, and recently a vacation home. Watching them hold true to their word and maturing financially has been a driving force to what I want to do every day in community banking.

Q: Top Three…

  • Book that you love/has made an impact? I recently completed a book and study called Change Me by Steve Horn. It has really changed my perspective on how to become the best of who I am called to be.
  • TV show or series you love? I have always been an old soul. I still read and seldom watch TV. The movie Gifted Hands about Ben Carson shows how he learned to see a book come to life with his imagination. I still love to do that just as he did whether it is a spiritual read, leadership book, or fiction. My mind soars when I am reading and that is what I spend my down time doing. Maybe one day I will catch up with the times, but probably not.
  • Pet peeve? My pet peeve is laziness. I preach to my kids every day that you do not have to be the best, but you do have to give your best. Always give me more than is expected. When you give less than expected and you know it, then you are being lazy.

Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: My surprising fact is that I hate shoes. I have closed loans in attorney offices before without shoes on. I have preached a sermon before without shoes. I always wanted to be just like my grandaddy, and he rarely put shoes on.