Folks out for downtown entertainment Saturday might have noticed a familiar corporate sign coming off an office tower.
BB&T, headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, officially merged in late 2019 with SunTrust to form Truist, whose sign is now atop the 300 Summers St. tower. Coming at the end of 2019, merger news flew under the radar during the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers have been notified since, and Charleston seems poised to keep a Truist presence here, if sign replacement means anything.
A December 2019 release reads, “The transition to the full Truist experience will occur as systems are integrated over the next two years. There will be no merger-related changes to account numbers or routing numbers for checking, savings and money market accounts for the vast majority of clients. As a result, most clients won’t need to order new checks or make changes to direct deposits, automatic drafts or wire instructions related to these accounts. Clients can find the latest information at Truist.com.”
Truist is the sixth-largest U.S. commercial bank, the release says, serving 10 million consumer households. The deal is characterized as a “merger of equals.”
Downtown businessman Lewis Payne, whose family played a large part in the formation of Kanawha Valley Bank, BB&T’s predecessor, said the merger appears to be more of the same scenario consumers have been witnessing for at least two decades now.
“This is a product of our times, these big bank mergers,” said “It’s probably not as drastic a change for customers, compared to the merger from One Valley Bank to BB&T. There you’re talking about going from a local to a regional bank. Now you’re merging two regional banks. To me that change is not as drastic. You were dealing with a large bank and you’re still dealing with a large bank.”
The Dickinson family, and to a lesser extent the Paynes, started the original Kanawha Valley Bank in 1867, along with other members of the valley’s salt industry. By 1929, only a month prior to the stock market crash, a new and glorious Kanawha Valley Bank rose to its claim as the tallest building in West Virginia.
Upon completion of the state Capitol building a few years later, it got bumped to No. 2 on the list, where it remains today, only 10 feet higher than Laidley Tower. The Kanawha Valley Building, as it is known today, is still in use as an office building, and several years ago housed a SunTrust bank in its lower, limestone rectangle.
In 1976, Kanawha Valley Bank moved to 300 Summers St., where it became One Valley Bank. Its growth attracted the attention of BB&T, which bought the bank in 2000.