Magazine article American Banker

No. 1: Live Oak Bank

Magazine article American Banker

No. 1: Live Oak Bank

Article excerpt

Location: Wilmington, N.C. Assets: $502 million No. of employees: 147 Chairman and CEO: James "Chip" Mahan 3rd

A meeting would have sufficed for Anne Mino, who just wanted an opportunity to discuss her heavy workload.

But her manager, Micah Davis, was one step ahead of her. Davis had already been asking senior leaders about hiring someone to help out Mino, who is an event marketing manager for Live Oak Bank in Wilmington, N.C.

Three weeks later, the new employee was on board, giving Mino yet another reason to celebrate the job she started in December.

"This is truly the best opportunity I have ever had in my entire life," says Mino, who worked as an interior designer and for an event production company before being hired by Live Oak. "I have never worked for a company that I am so excited about."

Live Oak does small-business lending nationwide, with a focus on niche industries, including veterinary practices, pharmacies, funeral homes and independent financial advisory firms. It does not operate any retail branches. But it does operate two corporate jets, which are available to employees for business travel.

"Everybody would say that's the stupidest damn thing in the world," says James "Chip" Mahan 3rd, Live Oak's chairman and CEO.

But Mahan believes that spending above the industry average on employees brings above-average results. Perks abound on the company's campus, which features a gym, a dog park and catered lunches every Friday.

This year, the bank, which opened in 2008, awarded stock options to all employees after it decided not to go public, instead opting to accept a passive private equity investment. …

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