Stafford named bank president

Published 12:11 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jay A. Stafford has been named president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Benchmark Community Bank (BCB), succeeding longtime CEO Michael O. Walker.

According to a bank press release, the transition took place during the bank’s board of directors’ meeting, which followed the Benchmark Bankshares Inc. Annual Shareholders meeting at the company’s Kenbridge headquarters on May 18. Benchmark Bankshares Inc. is the holding company for the bank.

“Stafford’s election as president/CEO was the culmination of a succession plan initiated by the board of directors in 2013 as Walker’s eventual retirement was being anticipated,” BCB officials said in the press release. “In the fall of 2014, Stafford was named executive vice president followed by his election as president by the board of directors in May 2016 with Walker remaining as CEO. In December, Walker announced his impending retirement to be

effective June 30.”

“The board of directors is pleased that Jay has accepted the role of president and CEO of BCB,” said  Board Chair Ernest R. “Randy” Lail. “We believe his experience in Southern Virginia and Benchmark will serve our shareholders, communities and employees well. We are excited about the future opportunities and the management team that has been assembled.”

“I am honored to have this opportunity to guide Benchmark in the coming years,” Stafford said in the release. “This is an institution that sincerely cares about the people and communities we serve. We have wonderful employees who make up the Benchmark team that truly enjoys contributing to their hometowns individually and through the bank’s involvement. That is a part of the Benchmark culture that has been demonstrated to us by my predecessor Mike Walker.”

“We certainly express our thanks to Mike Walker for his 43 years of dedicated service and the last 12 as president and CEO,” Lail said.

“Mike has been an incredible mentor and truly set the tone for how Benchmark operates today,” Stafford said. “From the décor of the branches to the Benchmark culture of community investment and customer service, Mike’s signature is highly evident. I could not have had a better example to emulate. I am honored and humbled to be entrusted with his legacy.”

“As Stafford takes the helm, he remarked that some change is inevitable as the bank responds to innovations and increased complexities in the banking industry, as well as customer needs,” BCB officials said in the press release. “He noted that a component of the succession plan specifically related to the bank’s response blueprint was realized in April with the formation of a senior management team. This team will provide strategic support for the existing executive management team. He noted that the enhanced management team will work together to provide specific organizational function support enabling the bank to continue its historically strong performance in the years to come.”

“We have always had trusted employees serving in officer positions to support the bank,” Stafford said. “With the bank’s growth and geographical expansion, it was time to broaden the leadership team to help us prepare for the future.”

A native of Fredericksburg, Stafford joined BCB in 1988 as a business development officer where he served for one year before being named branch manager in Victoria location. According to the release, in 1998, he began overseeing multiple branches as a regional manager and was advanced in 2003 to vice president/branch administrator with oversight of all the branches. His promotion to senior vice president came in 2005, a position in which he served until elevation to chief banking officer in 2014 and executive vice president in 2015.

Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is head­quartered in Kenbridge. In Virginia, BCB has locations in Farmville, Kenbridge, Victoria, Crewe, Blackstone, South Hill, Chase City, Halifax, South Boston and Clarksville.