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Bank of St. Petersburg names COO

JEFF HARRINGTON
Published March 9, 2004

TAMPA - Katie Pemble, a former executive with Bank of America, has become chief operating officer for the Bank of St. Petersburg, reporting to the community bank's new headquarters in downtown Tampa.

To some customers, the geographical set-up may seem more confusing than balancing a checkbook in the dark.

But to the new owners and management team of Bank of St. Petersburg, it's a key step in a corporate plan to become a player on both sides of the bay.

"We think Tampa Bay is one great market," said bank president and chief executive Joe Caballero, who recently began operating out of leased headquarters in downtown Tampa. "When you view the area, especially for people who have moved here, it's viewed as Tampa Bay. ... But it doesn't mean we're going to change our name."

The Bank of St. Petersburg's makeover began in September 2001 when a group led by Tampa insurance investor Robert Rothman bought the institution from the Cannova family. Caballero became CEO about seven months ago.

The bank, with $107-million in assets and $80-million in deposits, currently has two branches in Pinellas County.

That should change quickly. By June, it plans to open a new branch and corporate headquarters in One Tampa City Center, best-known as Verizon's headquarters. It has bought land to build a second Tampa branch on Himes Avenue across from Raymond James Stadium.

Pemble, who joined the bank as chief operating officer last week, will be in charge of growing the Pinellas side. She plans to open a third Pinellas County branch in northeast St. Petersburg by year-end.

Pemble, 39, had a 17-year career with Bank of America, the Charlotte megabank that controls nearly a fourth of deposits in the Tampa Bay area. Most recently, she ran the bank's Pinellas County operation.

"I had gotten into a level within the Bank of America where so much of what we needed to do to be successful had to be done on a grand scale. It required a lot of business-related travel," she said. "That just didn't seem to fit with what I wanted out of my own professional - and more importantly my personal - life."

She told Caballero she has the easier task - promoting the Bank of St. Petersburg name in Pinellas.

But Caballero, who will concentrate on Hillsborough County, doesn't think the bank's name will be a problem. "People do business with people," he said.

If anything, Caballero thinks the bank's name will become a marketing advantage in Tampa. "It stands out," he said.

- Jeff Harrington can be reached at harrington@sptimes.com or 813226-3407.

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