Our History

Citizens Bank, San Juan County, NM — The Citizens Bank was incorporated in Aztec, NM on January 16, 1905.

Since that historic time the bank has expanded to 6 office locations and 9 ATMs in Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield. Three locations offer extended hours and are open most holidays for our customer’s convenience.

Citizens Bank is rated among the top performing banks in the country by a variety of rating services.

Citizens Bank is the largest locally owned community bank in San Juan County and among the largest in the State of New Mexico. Our primary areas of specialization include personal and small business deposit services, electronic services, and a full range of commercial, real estate and consumer lending, along with our affiliate Trust Department services.

Citizens Bank stays abreast of changes in the industry through attendance by employees at a combination of seminars, professional development courses, in-house training and industry-sponsored conventions.

Citizens Bank is a good corporate citizen and a strong supporter to the communities we serve.

Giving back to the Community is very important to Citizens Bank. Citizens Bank is proud to sponsor community activities including:

  • Fireworks kicking off Farmington’s Freedom Days Celebration.
  • Annual Tennis Tournaments for adults and children.
  • Sponsorship of a variety of fundraising activities of non-profit organizations in San Juan County.
    Bank Employees and Officers volunteer their time to more than 60 non-profit organizations throughout San Juan County! We serve on committees, advisory councils and boards. We lend our help to community projects and programs!

It’s our pleasure to serve you and offer you convenience in banking.
We appreciate your business - Thank you!

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  • Thoughts from Martin Pierce

    CITIZENS BANK
    SAN JUAN COUNTY, NEW MEXICO

    It was the year 1903. Thomas Pierce (49) was dissatisfied with his position in the bank in Trinidad, Colorado. It was time to move on. He had learned the banking business from his father in a bank in Reinbeck, Iowa. He had his own ideas about how a bank should be run.

    The railroad had just reached Aztec and Farmington, New Mexico. There was no reason to assume that it would not continue on. The San Juan Basin had a pleasant climate and fertile land available for farming.

    Thomas and his wife, Ella, (36) and son John (11) boarded the train for Aztec with the hope to organize a bank in Aztec. There was already a bank in Farmington.

    There were a lot of carpetbaggers starting banks in those days. Thomas needed to convince the citizens of Aztec of his probity and the soundness of his plan in order to get them to invest.

    Pierce found support among such families as Pinkstaff, Hartman and Bruington.

    The bank opened for business early in 1905 on the southwest corner of what is now Chaco and Main. It later moved two lots south.

    The bank was apparently successful. They soon had their own building. Pierce invested in several small farms.

    After college and military service, John joined the bank part time. He married Katherine Lybarger, and they had two children, Martin Allen and Ann Katherine. The bank could not pay a salary sufficient to support a family. He sold insurance, had an abstract company, and was a partner in a sheep outfit.

    Thomas died in 1926 at the age of 72. A. G. Ramsower became president of the bank.

    The bank barely survived during the Great Depression. They bought the Aztec State Bank in the hope that the additional business would help the profit picture. It was a mistake.

    Some days the bank opened in the morning not knowing if they would have cash to meet withdrawals during the day. On one occasion they were saved by the arrival of the railroad payroll.

    The bank was a member of the Federal Reserve System, an unusual thing in those days. One of the examiners told John not to worry, that they were not going to let a member bank go broke. How would they do that? John wondered.

    The banks were all closed during the bank holiday, while the authorities decided which one would be allowed to open, and which would fail. The announcement came over the radio and the citizens gathered round in anticipation. Citizens Bank was one of the first to be spared. The people thought that it was because Citizens was one of the strongest, but John said it was because Aztec started with the letter A.

    The Reconstruction Finance Authority injected new capital. This had to be paid off in time.

    In the 1940s the gas drilling business took off. Farmington was the center of activity, and John wanted a branch in Farmington. Martin Pierce had joined the bank, and they went to all the correspondent banks trying to find out how it could be done. They all said it was impossible. At last they found the main office could be moved to Farmington, leaving Aztec as a branch. A simple solution caused a big PR problem. A town meeting was called in the basement of the Methodist Church at which enough money was pledged to buy John out, but there was no one to manage the bank, so the revolution failed.

    We needed a proven executive, preferably one with some money in order to get approval for the move. S. R. Bellmaine, a Gallup banker, was well regarded. Stock was sold to new investors. Many old time First National customers agreed to keep some accounts with us in the spirit of friendliness and to help another new business in town. We opened for business at 200 West Main early in 1950.

    The 1950s were a drag, and we were under constant pressure to raise new capital. Profits were slim.

    John hired A. J. Weinig, of the First National Bank of Durango. Art Wienig was a personable sort, looked like a banker, and inspired confidence. The ups and downs in the oil and gas field continued to make it difficult for us. We did build a much-needed new building at 500 West Main. Things were better most of the time.

    Weinig retired at age 65 in 1967, to be succeeded by Martin Pierce. Good growth and profits lasted until the energy crises of the 80s.

    In 1990 Sam Butler became President and David Pierce became Chairman of the Board. They had a good team of bankers and board members. Profits and growth took off once the problems of the 80s were behind us.

    Farmington no longer relies on the energy business alone, although it will continue to be important. The new economy is here, along with the new banking business. I hope that some of the old timers who invested so much blood, sweat and tears into this bank somehow realize that that $45,000 on capital has grown to over $30,000,000 and that what they did was worth it.

    Martin Pierce
    June 2001