Location: Nashville
Assets: $1 billion
Employees: 140
Chairman and CEO: Ron Samuels

Give Ron Samuels this: not many other bank chairmen play guitar in their institution's award-winning band. The Hummingbirds, Avenue Bank's 10-man musical troupe does covers of hits from the likes of Keith Urban, the Beatles and Linda Ronstadt. It also regularly participates in — and often wins — contests against bands from around its hometown of Nashville. In 2012, the Hummingbirds won the right to perform at the CMA Music Festival.

"We're competing against all the music industry companies and winning," says Samuels, who is also Avenue's chief executive. The band's success "creates a lot of excitement around here, and a lot of community spirit."

Since opening in 2007, Avenue has grown to $1 billion of assets with a "concierge service" model that Samuels says creates a warmer experience for customers than using tellers.

The personal touch extends to the work environment. The bank sponsors book clubs and special employee groups, such as one focused on women's professional development. It also holds a companywide gathering each Tuesday morning that Samuels says is "more like a family sitting around the kitchen table" than a business meeting. "It's all about attitude," he says.

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