Davis, who is retiring June 30, said banking has been vastly altered by computers. While they had automated teller machines when he started, customers can now deposit checks and cash without getting out of their car or even talking to a human being.
“What that has led to is so much more access for people,” said 61-year-old Davis, Wells Fargo’s area business banking manager for Cobb, Cherokee and Paulding counties. “The access people have is tremendous … But if you don’t take care of your customer and put them first, you won’t have a customer.”
Davis spent most of his professional life in Cobb County. His career followed the trend of bank mergers in recent decades. He started with First National Bank of Atlanta in 1982, then moved over to First Union in 1985. In 2001, First Union merged with Wachovia, taking Wachovia’s name. Then, in 2008, Wells Fargo purchased Wachovia, including First Union.
A Columbus, Ohio, native, Davis came to the area after serving seven years in the Air Force. He wanted to move to Atlanta, where his wife of 37 years, Jill, hailed from. And he wanted to follow his father into banking.
“I just picked up the phone book and started calling banks, and they’re the ones who called me back,” Davis said of First Atlanta.
After coming to Georgia, Davis continued serving in the Air Force Reserve at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, where he served as a maintenance officer on C-130 transport planes built at nearby Lockheed for 16 years.
“When they go flying by my office here at Cumberland, I still have a real fondness for those airplanes,” he said.
While his active duty service kept him stateside, Davis’s time in the Reserve allowed him to travel to the Panama Canal Zone, where his crew supplied U.S. embassies in South America. Other missions took him to Austria, Italy and England.
Davis, a Smyrna resident, has been involved in other aspects of the community, working closely with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. He was the Chamber’s chairman in 2004 and has remained on its executive committee since. In 2005 and 2006, he served as chairman of the United Way Campaign.
Davis earned a business administration degree from Capital University in his native Columbus and earned a master’s of business administration from Sul Ross State University while stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas.
He has a son, a daughter and a 4-year-old grandson. Gary and Jill Davis plan to take his 90-year-old mother and move to Eagle, Colo., where his daughter works for a ski resort company.
“It’s apparent to me that she’s not moving back to Atlanta, so if I want to see my grandchild, I’d better move out there,” he said.
Gary Davis hopes that retiring will allow more time to travel. He may even get a condominium in Atlanta or Tampa, Fla., where his son lives.
Leonard Walker, Wells Fargo Atlanta business banking division manager, said Gary Davis’ contributions to banking, where he works with about 1,000 small- to medium-size clients for Cobb’s largest bank, have been “tremendous.”
“We wish him the best of luck in his well-deserved retirement,” Walker said.