Photo: Seacoast Bank
Through acquisitions, Seacoast now has 68 centers in 17 counties.
Economic Backbone: Finance
A History of Acquisitions
Seacoast Bank hangs on to its local appeal while growing to $10 billion in assets.
Seacoast Bank, founded at the onset of the Great Depression, is the stuff of homespun Florida. During World War II, the Stuart-based institution provided mothers of service members Blue Star flags. In the 1950s, one of its bankers worked out the deal that kept on the airwaves Ramar of the Jungle — a show mostly known from the lyric of a Jimmy Buffett song. At the dawn of the Space Age, the bank gave kids rocket-shaped banks to encourage savings and thrift. Put a coin on the ship and a spring launched it through a slot in the moon for savings.
Seacoast, under three generations of the Hudson family, proved to have more than down-home charm. As the state became dominated by large national banks and while other community banks got bought out, Seacoast remained independent and grew — and has grown rapidly through acquisitions since the pandemic. In June 2020, the bank stood at $8.1 billion in assets. As of Sept. 31, it had reached $10.3 billion in assets. Acquisitions have built its market share in Miami (Apollo Bank), St. Petersburg (Freedom Bank), Sarasota (Sabal Palm Bank), Ocala and Gainesville (Drummond). It has 68 banking centers in 17 counties.
The CEO for the recent stretch, Chuck Shaffer, says Seacoast remains open to more. The first non- Hudson to lead the bank, Shaffer is a Florida native who grew up in Melbourne, earned a bachelor’s in finance at Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Central Florida before joining Seacoast, where he’s been for 25 years. (After joining the bank, he earned an accounting degree from Florida Atlantic University and an advanced management program certificate from Wharton.) He was the company’s executive vice president, CFO and COO in 2020, when Seacoast announced he would succeed Dennis S. Hudson III, the grandson of the founder, who himself took over from his father and uncle in 1992.
The bank serves small businesses up through “fairly large” middle-market companies, Shaffer says, with “high quality” digital tools while maintaining the community bank ethos and service. Like many, he expects a national recession in the latter half of this year but also expects Florida to outperform the nation. One encouraging stat he cites: In recent times 30% to 40% of homes purchased have been all-cash deals.
Shaffer says Seacoast aims to deliver performance in the upper quartile of the industry, consolidate market share and be a Florida-focused bank. “You couldn’t get a better operating market,” he says. — By Mike Vogel
VENTURE CAPITAL IMPACT
Total economic impact from 2012 through 2021 of venture capital and venture-backed private equity industries in Florida reached $85.4 billion, according to an analysis for Florida Venture Forum and Weatherford Capital. The analysis says the investments supported nearly a half-million jobs, accounted for $27 billion in household income and contributed $44 billion to the state’s GDP. Independent economic research consultant Washington Economics Group performed the analysis.