Clayton News-Star

Johnston-born bank celebrating 90th anniversary

KS Bank makes its corporate home on North Bright Leaf Boulevard in Smithfield.
KS Bank makes its corporate home on North Bright Leaf Boulevard in Smithfield. KS Bank

It started with a home, or rather a home loan to a local family.

The chief objective in organizing Kenly Building and Loan on April 28, 1924, was to provide home loans to buyers in Johnston County. Its offices were in back of the Bank of Kenly from 1924 until 1960, when the building and loan built its first office in downtown Kenly.

In 1961, the company changed its name to Kenly Savings and Loan Association. That same year, the company hired its first executive vice president, Harold McRae, who served until 1990. Under his leadership, assets grew to $57 million, and the savings and loan opened a branch in Selma in October 1965.

In 1990, the company elected its first president and chief executive, Harold T. Keen, who continues in that role. With expansion at the forefront of its agenda, the company in 1991 purchased a bank branch in Wilson, its first location outside of Johnston County and its third retail branch. Since that time, the company has opened branches in Clayton, Goldsboro, Garner, Smithfield, Wendell and Four Oaks. A mortgage-servicing office is located in Greenville.

In July of 1992, the company changed its name to Kenly Savings Bank. The change reflected an emphasis on becoming a full-service retail bank with checking and other traditional deposit products and services.

The following year, 1993, proved to be the most pivotal year in the company’s history. Before 1993, the company was a state-chartered mutual savings bank; however, in December 1993, the company completed its mutual-to-stock conversion and became a state-chartered stock savings bank. Kenly Savings Bank became a wholly-owned subsidiary of KS Bancorp Inc.

In order to avoid limiting the bank to one geographic area, the board of directors changed the name from Kenly Savings Bank to KS Bank in 1999. Another major event in the bank’s history was the relocation of the corporate office from Kenly to Smithfield in November 2003. The board deemed the move necessary to increase the bank’s presence in a major market in Johnston County.

Currently, the bank employs 86 people and has $304 million in assets.

From its beginnings in 1924 until now, the company has rested upon the shoulders of its board. Past cornerstones of the board include L.C. Wilkerson, J. Dobbin Bailey and H. Elwin Watson, all of Kenly; J. Russell Kirby of Wilson; J. Hayden Wiggs of Selma; and N. Graham Holt of Princeton. These men and their colleagues helped lead the company into new territory.

In recognition of its 90th anniversary, the bank plans celebrations throughout the year, including April 24 in Smithfield and May 15 in Kenly.