By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After seven years as Tupelo city president for Regions Bank, Hoot Wilder is passing the baton to “the right person at the right time.”
That person is Gary Sparkman, who on Jan. 1 officially takes over supervision of four Regions Bank branches and about 50 employees.
“I’m honored, excited and humbled to have been considered,” he said.
Sparkman, 47, isn’t new to Tupelo. While he was born in Jackson, he’s spent the past 22 years here.
“I’ve been in banking and finance for 25 years. … I’ve been with Regions for four years,” he said. “I’ve had various jobs in other banks. I was sales manager for a capital management group, I was in corporate lending and I’ve been in investment advice. So I’ve had a lot of banking experience.”
Wilder has been in banking since 1998, having joined the industry during the Deposit Guaranty and AmSouth Bank merger. He came aboard as a business development manager and headed Regions’ Columbus and Golden Triangle operations before taking over the Tupelo city president role.
Wilder, 64, said he has no immediate plans business-wise, but will remain in touch with his colleagues at Regions since he’s on the advisory board.
“But I think I’ll pick up my banjo and oil painting, which I haven’t done in awhile,” he said.
Sparkman had nothing but praise for his predecessor, calling him a “great resource.”
He also complimented the other banks in town and noted the friendly competition between all of them.
But, he added, “Regions is the biggest bank in Mississippi by market share and is the twenty-second-largest in the country. So with economies of scale we’re able to bring some of the most advanced products to Northeast Mississippi. That’s our competitive advantage, not only in our products, but our people.”
Sparkman earned his bachelor of business administration degree from Mississippi State University, with a major in banking and finance. He also is a graduate of the Commercial Lending Graduate School at Tthe University of Oklahoma, and the Tennessee Commercial Lending School at Vanderbilt University.
His roots are firmly planted in Tupelo, where his wife, Adra, teaches at Tupelo High School and their two children attend Tupelo Public Schools.
“Tupelo is uniquely positioned for growth and development,” Sparkman said. “Obviously everyone talks about Toyota and its suppliers but we also have the infrastructure improvements, the public schools are really strong and the community colleges and institutions of higher learning we have nearby put us in a position to prosper longterm.”