Public transition begins for First Victoria's former headquarters

Scaffolding is set up around the First Victoria sign in downtown Victoria before it is permanently removed.

News broke in July that First Victoria National Bank had sold, and the merger went through Nov. 1. But this week brought physical proof of the end of Texas' oldest independent bank.

Crews Friday prepared to replace First Victoria signs with those of Prosperity Bank at First Victoria's former headquarters, 101 S. Main St.

That sign change began with other locations this week and is all part of the transition from one company to the other, said John Zacek, Prosperity Bank's South Texas area president.

The company dubbed last weekend "conversion weekend," he said, noting that was when the computers switched from First Victoria's systems to Prosperity's. About 100 Prosperity "banker buddies," or those familiar with the system and available to help, made their way to Victoria this week to assist with the switch.

"Our biggest goal is to make sure that the customer service doesn't suffer in any way during the computer conversions," Zacek said. "That's really the sensitive part of all this as we move through the merger date."

Customers have experienced some problems when it comes to getting their personal identification numbers on ATM cards, he said, while electronic banking resets have also posed issues. A majority of the issues center on the business - rather than the personal - side, he added.

The deeper into the conversion process the computer system goes, the more elements there are to map over from one system to the next, he said.

"For the most part, we've been very pleased with the transition," Zacek said. "There have been some issues but not anything that our people haven't been able to resolve."

He said all signs companywide should be changed within the next seven to 10 days.

Last weekend also brought another major change with a majority of Prosperity employees who worked at the 1205 N. Navarro St. building relocating to Main Street.

Victoria Mayor Paul Polasek called the transition and change in signs part of the normal course of business. He said he wishes Prosperity all the best in its business endeavors.

"I'm hoping they'll have a good presence down here," he said of the downtown location.

For Victoria native Linda Lockhart, who works for a law firm next door to the Main Street building, it will be strange to lose that First Victoria sign.

"I see it all the time," she said while walking back to her office after a trip to the Victoria County Courthouse. "It's kind of like a fixture, a landmark."

Lockhart recalled other downtown changes through the years, from former theaters to other banks and still more that used to call the area home.

"Change can be scary. But I'm sure it's a good thing," she said of the switchover.

As for Zacek, with 32 years under his belt with First Victoria, he said he was the bank's longest-tenured employee. He saw the company grow from a $300 million institution to one with just more than $2.4 billion.

"We've grown quite a bit," he said Friday afternoon.

Still, he said he is ready for his coming days with Prosperity.

"I look forward to being part of a bigger organization that still focuses on community banking," he said. "That's what they are."