Cullman’s Premier Bank has come a long way in 30 years.

Beginning in 1987 with a single branch in a mobile unit near Good Hope, the bank has expanded over the decades to encompass nine North Alabama branches, staffed by more than six dozen employees.

On Thursday — the 30th anniversary of its first day in business — the bank celebrated with a repeat ribbon cutting and reception at its main downtown branch along First Avenue Northwest.

Premier CEO and president Jay Mullins said the bank’s success owes much to its emphasis on local service, a focus its board of directors and employees have maintained from the beginning.

“Back in 1987 when we first started, we were losing local-friendly personal service because we just had large banks that were owned elsewhere that were in operation here,” said Mullins.

“We saw an opportunity. Big banks did not know and understand Cullman as a community. That was lacking when we created this bank, and we took the approach that, if you don’t know your community, how can you really know your customers’ needs?”

Within six months, Premier had opened a second location at the intersection of 8th Street and U.S. Highway 31. That location would serve as the bank’s main Cullman branch for the next several years, until Premier moved into its current headquarters in a repurposed historic building on the west side of the downtown railroad.

Mullins said the bank’s early days had their memorable moments — moments that, on reflection, deepen his appreciation for its 30 years in successful operation.

“As a bit of trivia, we had opened on November 30 of 1987. Well, that following January, a tornado came through and lifted the roof off the trailer that served as our bank location down at Good Hope,” he recalled.

“I spent the night with a shotgun there that night, protecting the customers’ assets. We went on and opened for business the very next morning. It was a unique situation just starting out, but we kept going, and we’re grateful to the community for being where we are today.”

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