When Bert Fields Sr. set out to make his mark on the world at age 19, he had no idea that his only resources—an eighth-grade education and $5—would be the seeds for one of the state’s largest privately-owned banks. Nevertheless, through his hard work and motivation, Bert Sr. grew from a hired hand into the owner and operator of one of the most successful family-owned oil operations of the day and the founder of a community bank in North Dallas.
This bank, the North Dallas Bank & Trust Co. (NDBT), was passed on to his son, Bert Fields Jr., who inherited his father’s integrity, vision and hard-working spirit. Under his guidance, the bank flourished and expanded to five banking centers throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Now, to honor these men and their values, NDBT has invested in future bankers by committing $1 million to the Commercial Banking Program (CBP) at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.
Like Father, Like Son
Born in 1900, Bert Sr. began his career in the oil industry as a short haul contract driver transporting diesel and other production-related materials between West Texas oilfields and refineries around the state. After meeting and marrying Alyne Bates, he continued his short haul work until the two started their own transportation company.
Bert Sr.’s integrity and industriousness quickly earned his business a favorable reputation, and he soon branched into other aspects of the industry, such as production and drilling. By hauling materials in exchange for interests in unproven wells, he gained ownership of numerous wells throughout the Southwest. His success encouraged him to invest in other business ventures, including founding NDBT in 1961.
When Bert Sr. passed away in 1963, he left portions of his oil investments and ranching operations and North Dallas Bank to his son. Although Bert Jr. was only 23 years old at the time, he had learned about responsibility, hard work and the family businesses from a young age from his father, and these principles, combined with his lifelong love of learning, helped him lead the enterprises to success.
As the principal shareholder of NDBT, Bert Jr. helped establish the institution’s reputation as one of the largest and most highly regarded community banks in Texas. A man of integrity, he committed himself to fulfilling his promises in every area of his life and viewed himself as a steward, knowing that his decisions could significantly impact others in the future. When he passed away in 2015, the bank’s holdings totaled more than $1 billion dollars in assets thanks to his long-term approach.
“The stories of these two men underscore the value of applying hard work and integrity to a clear vision and can be incredibly inspirational to today’s banking talent,” said Larry Miller, NDBT president and a member of the CBP advisory board’s executive committee. “Although neither of them sat in a banker’s chair, each of them was committed to understanding our business as a board member and shareholder at a level that qualified them to be top bankers in their day.”
BANKING ON THE FUTURE
NDBT is continuing to embrace the Fields’ legacy and vision for the future through a gift given in their honor to Mays Business School’s Commercial Banking Program. “Of utmost importance to us is to recognize and honor both Bert Fields Sr. and Bert Fields Jr. and all that they stood for in a manner that equips others to succeed,” Miller explained. “Both men were passionate students all their lives. They never stopped learning and investing that knowledge, and they always found new ways to make things work better. We believe a perfect way to honor this legacy is to invest in the education of others who will make a difference in the businesses the Fields believed in.”