Investors nationwide will have a chance today to buy into First National Corporation, the bank holding company of First National Bank, which is headquartered in Strasburg.
Scott Harvard, president and CEO of First National Corporation, said in a phone call Wednesday this move has been something the company has been preparing for a number of years.
“We’ve been building toward this for some time,” Harvard said, “and felt like, on the heels of our best earnings year ever in 2018, it was probably the right time to pull the trigger.”
This morning, First National Corporation will be available on the Nasdaq Capital Market stock exchange. Last year, First National Corporation netted a record $10.1 million, according to a news release.
By taking First National Corporation national, Harvard said, it moves toward a goal of establishing assets worth $1 billion and growing the reputation of the company. Right now, Harvard said, the company is three-quarters of the way there, with assets worth $750 million.
“As we get to that size and scale, it’s important we have a private currency people have confidence in,” he said.
To qualify to enter the Nasdaq Stock Market, companies must meet a number of governance and oversight requirements, Harvard said – most of which First National Corporation has had in place for years. Harvard said those basics were important for complying with a standard of best practices within the banking industry.
First Bank started in Strasburg in 1907 and has expanded throughout the state with 14 branches in the Shenandoah Valley. In recent years, First National Corporation purchased a number of Bank of America branches, allowing them to move into southern and central Virginia as well.
Despite its growth, Harvard said there is still an emphasis on community and First National Corporation’s Shenandoah County roots.
“A large number of our shareholders are Shenandoah County residents,” Harvard said. “As we grow our company and build the value of their investment, it’s a pretty significant benefit.”
“From probably 2012 until today, the value of our company has grown from $20 million to $100 million – $80 million worth of value has been created in the company and the hands of our shareholders,” he continued, “many of [whom] are in Shenandoah County, where we grew up and where our headquarters is.”
Entering the Nasdaq market also flings the doors open for new investors who are looking to expand their IRA or 401(k) portfolios. Previously, Harvard said, companies were less likely to let employees invest their funds in First National Corporation. With the strength of the Nasdaq market behind them, he noted those fears are gone.
Harvard said stocks were trading around $21.50 a share on Wednesday, up slightly from $20.25 at the end of Tuesday, possibly due in part to the Nasdaq announcement — though he couldn’t say for sure.
As investors start to flow in from outside Virginia, Harvard said there aren’t any plans to venture outside of the commonwealth, but he wouldn’t rule out a possible expansion into West Virginia if the right opportunity presented itself.
At the top of Harvard’s list is continuing to contribute to the well-being of communities where First National Corporation has established itself.
“Culturally, we are pretty devoted to our communities and making our communities better and being a catalyst to bettering our communities,” he said. “We think this aligns with us continuing to be a good sustainable company.“