Benjamin P. Jenkins 3d describes himself as a player-coach - someone who is "not just on the sidelines giving instructions, but in the game trying to help."

Mr. Jenkins' hands-on management style will be tested to the fullest in his new job as president and chief operating officer of Roanoke, Va.-based Dominion Bankshares Corp., which has agreed to be acquired by First Union Corp. Mr. Jenkins had been president of First Union's Georgia Bank.

Same Job, Bigger Scale

Mr. Jenkins' job responsibilities in Virginia will be similar to those in Georgia, but on a larger scale. Until some recent thrift acquisitions, First Union National Bank of Georgia had about $5 billion in assets; Dominion has $8.9 billion.

Dominion's chairman and chief executive officer, Warner N. Dalhouse, will remain to help with the bank's strategic direction, but Mr. Jenkins will run it on a day-to-day basis. Mr. Jenkins said his main focus would be on improving Dominions' profitability, sales culture, and credit quality.

When the merger is completed next spring, Dominion's Virginia operations will become part of First Union National Bank of Virginia, while the Tennessee unit will be incorporated into First Union's operation there.

If First Union is successful in its expected bid for Washington, D.C.-based First American Bankshares Inc., Mr. Jenkins will have another $4.9 billion in assets to manage.

"That would be neat," he says, referring to First American. "It would complement our distribution network in northern Virginia and Washington."

Mr. Jenkins, 48, is a 21-year veteran of Charlotte-based First Union. After joining the bank in 1971, he served in the national division until 1974, when he was named territory manager for the Southwest. In 1977, he was brought back to North Carolina to manage commercial lending in Greensboro.

Diversified Experience

In quick succession, Mr. Jenkins managed First Union's operations in High Point (1979), and Raleigh (1981) before being appointed chairman, president, and chief executive officer of the South Carolina bank in 1986. The following year, he was transferred to Georgia to help chairman and chief executive Harald Hansen run that operation.

"He's a good delegater, and that will serve him well at Dominion," Mr. Hansen said. "He's a participative manager, but he knows what he wants."

Mr. Jenkins had gained retail experience during his postings in South Carolina and Georgia, where both the retail and commercial divisions reported to him. But his real expertise, and first love, is commercial lending.

"He knows the consumer bank. But if you really got inside his heart, the thing that makes his blood run fast is making a sale to a real high-profile company at a price that brings something to the bottom line," Mr. Hansen said.

Detecting Motion

A native of Asheboro, N.C., Mr. Jenkins earned a bachelor's degree in textile chemistry from North Carolina State University and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Alabama. For relaxation, he enjoys weekend golf as well as jogging, which he tries to do every morning.

"I'm a very slow jogger, but pretty faithful," he said. "It's difficult for people that see me way far away to know whether I'm going forward or running backward."

With his new posting in Virginia, there's no mistaking the fact that Mr. Jenkins is moving forward.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.