Conway’s Johnny Allison, Home BancShares chairman, is one of American Banker Magazine’s Community Bankers of the Year.

The industry trade publication highlighted three community bankers based on this year’s criterion, "a good growth story," said the magazine’s Consumer Finance Editor, Alan Kline.

Kline, who was one of the editors that led the Banker of the Year project, said Allison’s growth story stood out among others - his bank deals have actually worked.

Home BancShares stock is very healthy at $34.89 today, and Kline says the market has responded well to all of Allison’s deals.

"That means investors are happy with what he’s done. Making a good deal is a lot easier said than done," Kline said. "That is where he has really shined."

The American Banker article mention’s Allison’s "buying spree" in Florida, where he capitalized on the banking financial crisis and acquired seven failed banks.

Others were making similar moves, but the author writes Allison took a more strategic approach, targeting banks he could cobble together into a franchise to create a real market presence.

Through various acquisitions and strategic moves, the article states, Home Bancshares has become part of an elite class of community banks with a stock price that gives it the power to keep buying and potentially bold itself into one of the large regionals of the next generation.

What has he done right?

Kline said Allison struck the right deals at the right time, in the right places and knew how to make them work.

"It helped, too, that he’s a pretty colorful character," he added.

This summer, Home BancShares, parent of Centennial Bank, announced the state’s largest merger on record.

Home BancShares acquired Liberty Bancshares, the parent company of Liberty Bank.

The company announced record income after the merger, but had been on a nine-quarter net income record streak.

The merger doubled Centennial Bank branches to 92 locations.

Home BancShares does business in Florida, Arkansas and Alabama.

This is the second Arkansas bank American Banker has picked in three years, according to Kline.

In 2010, editors chose Bank of the Ozark’s George Gleason.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at