Ken Poteet sits on a sofa, an art piece titled All the King's Men, which was unveiled last month at Sterling's Clayton location. Constructed of 3,687 silver half dollars by artist Johnny Swing, it's one of only four made in the world.

Sterling Bank chairman and CEO Ken Poteet realized one of his dreams the day his bank was chartered in Poplar Bluff, Mo. It was Oct. 19, 2004. “We had the opportunity of using our own model and culture,” Poteet says. “We had the ability to create something that very few people have been able to successfully do, and we were inspired to do it with our own footprint.”

After receiving his undergraduate degree from Missouri State University and graduate degree from Southern Methodist University, Poteet began his banking career in 1986. An “inspired” reader, he notes that one of his favorite books is If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Orgberg. “It’s always the first step that’s the hardest,” Poteet says. “When Sterling Bank was created, I knew it was time to take that first step.”

According to Poteet, the bank became a profitable entity three months after opening, and by May 2007, it had reached $100 million in assets. Sterling Bank is currently one of the top five banks out of 320 in the state of Missouri and one of the top 100 banks in the nation. “We’ve had increased earnings every year,” he says. “It’s about surrounding ourselves with people who really are the best at what they do.”

And that standard of quality also is present in Sterling Bank’s facilities. “The first facility that we built (in Poplar Bluff) was recognized as one of the top six architectural designs in the country for a community bank by Independent Banker magazine,” Poteet says. “And here in Clayton, our building emulates that same retro look.” In fact, every Sterling facility has a plaza with a fountain, a clock tower and a dome. “They each have that old but new brick feel, as well. You won’t see another building like it in Clayton.”

Poteet attributes Sterling Bank’s success to its staying true to its culture and business model. “We strive on building solid relationships and take pride in the personal service and commitment that we provide to our customers,” he explains, adding the company continues to grow by building solid relationships one at a time. “We are here to make an impact—we have the business model, culture and financial success to keep making that contribution to the community.”

Beginning on April 19, on the third Thursday of the month, the bank will offer a series of free community business after-hour events called Sterling Sounds of Spring on the Sterling Bank Plaza in Clayton. Continuing through October, each event will feature a different band, with Arvell & Company kicking off the series. “The goal is to provide an outlet and a nice, relaxing venue for patrons of Clayton, as well as to give back to a community that has been very good to us,” Poteet says. “The series is open to public, and the bands will range in types of music from jazz, Motown and blues to contemporary. So, you can plan on a variety of good music—and a great time!”