In the early 1960s, Bert Fields Sr. didn’t have much of an education when he founded North Dallas Bank & Trust Co. Born in 1900, he had an eighth grade education and $5 in his pocket when he began his professional career three decades earlier in the West Texas oilfields. He worked as a tank truck driver, then started a transport business with his wife, and branched out into oil and gas production. He quickly earned a reputation as a favorable business person and eventually gained ownership of several wells across the Southwest, which gave him the financial means to open a community bank in North Texas, according to a May 2020 article from the Texas A&M Foundation.
The bank began its journey with just $2 million in total assets, three officers and seven employees.
Two years later, Fields Sr. died, and his 23-year-old son, Bert Fields Jr., took over the family business. But, just like his father, Bert Jr. took what he learned, worked hard and built a favorable reputation. He would help lead his father’s bank to becoming one of the most successful banks in the state.
Today, the North Dallas Bank & Trust Co. is celebrating 60 years of business in North Texas. It currently has five branches — Dallas, Addison, Frisco, Las Colinas and Plano — $1.5 billion in total assets and over 160 employees.
NDBT has earned a 5-star superior rating from Bauer Financial for over 30 consecutive years, making it one of the safest banks in America.
“Any banker will tell you — 31 years with that rating is a remarkable streak,” said Ralph Thompson, market president of NDBT’s Plano Banking Center and NDBT’s Collin County regional president. “There are almost 5,000 banks in the U.S., and only 3% of those banks have matched it. No other bank headquartered in Dallas or Collin counties has achieved it. Those five stars represent the truly uncommon stability that NDBT achieves for customers and employees. This translates into business, jobs, and success.”
But the bank doesn’t just focus on banking — it also focuses on helping the community. Each NDBT branch supports a non-profit organization specific to the community it serves.
“Our bank believes in serving our communities in a way that promotes growth, progress and success for everyone in those communities,” said Thompson, who has been with NDBT for 12 years. “As financial service professionals, we have the opportunity to help others make wise financial choices.”
In 2019, NDBT launched NDB Cares, an employee-led community service initiative, to support various non-profits. Essentially, the initiative “takes a focused, strategic approach to service” rather than “random, occasional efforts,” Thompson said.
So far, NDBT’s branches serve different nonprofits. In Addison, the branch focuses on Metrocrest Services, an organization that supports peoples’ needs in crises. The Dallas branch serves Family Gateway, an organization that helps children and families affected by homelessness. Over in Las Colinas, the branch serves Irving Cares, an organization that assists Irving residents in financial crises.
In Collin County, the Frisco branch works with Frisco Family Services to provide resources for Frisco community members in destabilizing situations. The Plano branch helps two organizations: Living for Zachary, which raises awareness to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in youth, and Ethos Education Group, which promotes the character development platform Ethos Pedagogy.
Thompson said the bank encourages all NDBT employees to volunteer with NDB Cares, but it’s 100% optional and voluntary. However, he said the program has been extremely popular among employees. On average, NDBT hosts or participates in about 50 activities per year in support of NDB Cares nonprofits, and almost all NDBT employees participate or volunteer in some capacity.
“It’s brought about a greater coordination of our teams’ efforts and resources and a more measurable impact,” Thompson said. “It also fosters a culture of community service for our team members. It’s meant a lot to us.”
Success Amid COVID-19
And despite the pandemic, NDBT didn’t stop helping others — including its employees.
Thompson said when the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, which are loans that provide direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll, came out in 2020, “it was a new process for everyone.” That being said, NDBT started a Small Business Administration platform from scratch to offer PPP loans to customers. In 2020, NDBT approved over 700 SBA PPP loans, which Thompson said is way over their normal small business loan volume.
All of these PPP loans had to be done before the PPP funds ran out, in addition to the bank’s normal loan volume and during a pandemic. When the pandemic hit, most NDBT employees began working remotely. They created a blue team and an orange team among staff who alternated two-week shifts at the bank.
But the challenge didn’t deter NDBT employees. Thompson credits the bank’s success amid the pandemic to the “heroic effort” from the bank’s employees.
“Our staff members knew that there were businesses and jobs on the line that needed these loans to survive,” Thompson said. “Our employees stepped forward in a big way, working long hours and extra days. Most people aren’t aware of the behind-the-scenes effort it took to make the PPP program a success, but we know, and we’re grateful.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story paraphrased one of the sources saying that employees average about 50 activities per year in support of NDB Cares. This is an incorrect fact and an error on the source’s part, according to NDBT. The NDBT spokesperson says that almost all NDBT employees volunteer each year with NDB Cares nonprofits, and NDBT does host/participate in about 50 nonprofit activities per year.