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HIGH SKIES OVER BRENTWOOD
Harris Pilots Local Bank into Promising Niche
Flying H43 rescue helicopters into hostile fire during the Viet Nam war taught Jim Harris two things about taking risks: be well drilled in all the contingencies associated with the risk, and know the capabilities of the machine you are piloting.
Decades later, Harris sits in another kind of cockpit, piloting the two-year-old Brentwood National Bank as its president. Clearly, the skies over Brentwood are friendlier than those he navigated in Southeast Asia, but doing business in today's banking environment certainly has its moments of combat. And without being prepared for all the financial contingencies and making sure you know the banking machine, a crash can occur -- or at least a temporary grounding.
"There is no doubt in my mind the training I received as a pilot in the military has served me well," explains Harris. "As a pilot you are thoroughly trained to handle all the contingencies and to maintain the discipline to follow procedures to increase the success of calculated risk-taking. In flying you are taught to never get into a situation that has no way out. I approach risk-taking in banking that way."
With that training in the background, Harris resigned his position as president of the Nashville operations for Memphis-based First Tennessee Bank in 1987 to head up the formation of Brentwood National Bank. "It was a chance to be a part of creating something new and to have an equity position in something of real value …