GBA Member Profile

Keith Beckham
Corporate President
Persons Banking Co., Inc., Perry, 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 first job was working for my father in his asphalt paving and grading business in junior high and high school. I had to work through all the different crews, curb and gutter, surveying, grading, asphalt plant operation and paving. As a note, asphalt comes out of the plant around 375 degrees F and is laid at about 250 degrees F. Walking behind the paving machine next to hot asphalt on a south Georgia August afternoon was when I knew I wanted an office job with air conditioning as a career. The men I worked with taught me humility and respect for superiors, to do the best job you can at every task, that you are always going to fail sometimes, and to give the customer a quality job at a fair price. I owe those guys for making sure I knew everyone is created equal and should be treated with respect.

Q: What is the most useful piece of advice you received in the early/formative years of your career?
A: My first bank job was with a community bank in Opelika, AL, where I worked my way up from a night processor to management trainee and then to a coveted consumer lender position. There are so many lessons there. The most important was to be direct and honest with everyone. If the answer is no, go ahead and tell the customer, and if someone else has a better deal, go ahead and direct them to a competitor; they will always come back to you for the next deal.

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: I believe being a banker is about serving as a trusted financial adviser and connecting people for a mutually beneficial outcome: clients and accountants, clients and attorneys, and clients with other clients. I believe in life insurance, when appropriate, and have several stories where it provided for the family in connection with a loan and continuation of a company after a loss. Jim Lovell of Life of the South taught me that years ago - “It’s only pennies a day.”

Q: Top Three…

  • Podcast you recommend? “Vanished” - real life stories about missing persons, and it’s great to listen to while traveling. Who knows, you could solve the mystery!
  • Book that you love/has made an impact? “Old Pro Turkey Hunter” by Gene Nunnery. There’s a lot of wisdom passed down in this one even if you are not a hunter. Think of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu for southerners.
  • TV show or series you love? “Longmire” on Netflix. You just can’t beat a western/murder mystery/love story, with a law man.

Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’ve ridden a Harley across the US several times and have been a pilot, a scuba diver, and shot over 3,000 dove in a day.