Alicia Laramy's battle with bone cancer has led her to step aside as the top executive at Wachovia Bank in Columbus, making way for a banking veteran with deep hometown roots in the market.
Greg Allmendinger, a "military brat" who grew up in Columbus, took charge of the city's second-largest bank Tuesday. He now oversees 18 financial centers, or branches, and 200 employees.
Wachovia reported $775 million in deposits in June 2007, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., giving the bank 14.8 percent of the local market. That's second only to Columbus Bank & Trust's $2.9 billion in deposits and nearly 56 percent market share.
"CB&T has done a lot for this market," Allmendinger said Tuesday via cell phone. "They've got a lot of good people that work there, and I think there's enough banking business in Columbus for all of us. I look forward to growing Wachovia's presence in this market."
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Allmendinger, 47, was born at Fort Benning and raised in Columbus, his father retiring as a U.S. Army master sergeant in the mid-1960s. He now lives on a family farm in Alabama.
A graduate of Troy University, Allmendinger started as a teller at National Bank of Fort Benning in 1979. He has seen several mergers and acquisitions, including First Union's purchase of Wachovia more than five years ago. The First Union brand was retired then.
There also have been several career steps for Allmendinger along the way, including the positions of strategic business development manager, consumer banking manager and retail branch manager. He has served as senior vice president and senior community banker in Columbus since 2002.
"It's something that I've wanted to do," he said of the market president job. "I've done a lot of different things for the company, traveled regionally and held regional positions, and I'd just rather be at home."
Paul Menk, Wachovia regional president for Georgia, praised the executive.
"Greg has lived and worked in the Columbus area for his entire career and understands the needs of local clients," he said. "Columbus is an important market for Wachovia, and I'm pleased to have a banker of Greg's caliber leading our team."
Laramy, 46, now heads to Wachovia's banking operation in Atlanta -- Roswell specifically -- where she takes the position of senior business banking relationship manager starting April 16.
It was a move made necessary by a diagnosis late last year of chondrosarcoma, a type of bone cancer prevalent in pelvic and shoulder areas. In Laramy's case, she had surgery to remove a small tumor from the tip of her left shoulder blade.
"They basically removed that part of the bone," she said. "So I did not need chemo, I did not need radiation. But it was a fairly extensive surgery to do that."
The banker is still undergoing physical therapy, and the prognosis is very good, she said. But her doctors advised the usually high-energy executive to slow down, cut back on stress, watch her diet and to exercise.
Thus the decision for the Wachovia veteran to switch gears in her 24-year banking career and return to Atlanta. She was retail banking director for the firm's East Atlanta territory before coming to Columbus in March 2003.
Laramy led the local transition from First Union to Wachovia in 2003 and Wachovia's acquisition of SouthTrust Bank in late 2004 and early 2005. She also fostered the bank's philanthropic efforts locally, while promoting top-notch customer service.
Husband, Scott, and daughter, Emily, a seventh-grader at St. Luke School, will join her in Atlanta this summer.
"This change, unlike any other job change that I've made with the company, has been driven by me as opposed to the company," Laramy said. "So what I'll be doing is taking my life one step at a time, and enjoying it, and seeing what the good Lord brings. He took real good care of me last year and in helping me recover now. So I feel very peaceful about this decision."
Hometown: Born at Fort Benning, but raised in Columbus
Family: Pat, wife of 25 years, and a grown daughter, Megan, who is studying to become a nurse
Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration from Troy University in Phenix City
Career: He's never left Columbus. Started as a bank teller at National Bank of Fort Benning in 1979, which has changed hands several times, including acquisitions by First National Bank of Columbus, First Railroad and Banking Co., First Union and Wachovia. Jobs held include strategic business development manager, consumer banking manager, retail branch manager and, since 2002, senior vice president and senior community banker.
Community: Director with Columbus Business Improvement District, executive director of Chattahoochee Council Boy Scouts of America and vice president of the board of directors of the Russell County Child Advocacy Center. Also an active volunteer with the United Way, March of Dimes and Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce