Doug Tuttle has a knack for working at distressed banks — and that's exactly why American Momentum Bank recently hired him … sort of.

Tuttle's last two employers were BankAtlantic and Mercantile Bank; each agreed to be sold while he was there. He worked for Barnett Banks, too, and it was sold in one of the most famous mergers in Florida history.

The $940 million-asset American Momentum in Tampa, Fla., backed by Texas tycoon Donald A. Adam, seems like a safe bet to endure, but, President Sam Davis, did you see any red flags given the track record of Tuttle's previous institutions?

Not a chance, Davis says. Tuttle, a veteran of 30 years in banking, has an inside knowledge of distressed banks that is vital for a company like American Momentum that plans to grow by acquisition.

"I like the fact that Doug had been to the dark side and had been able to work through and understand what you have to do to bring in the right people," says Davis, another Barnett alum, who hired Tuttle this month to be president of the Tampa market. "To me, that's an exceptional skill set that not all bankers have."

Tuttle says he has found a promising gig. American Momentum acquired two failed banks last year and bought Brazos Valley Bank in College Station, Texas in April. It began in 2006 with $100 million in capital that Adam helped raise.

"This bank [American Momentum] is not a turnaround situation. … We're poised and ready, and our marching orders are to grow," Tuttle says.

Tuttle spent three years as the Tampa market president of BankAtlantic, prepping the sale of its 19 Tampa branches to PNC Financial Services Group (PNC) last year for an astounding 10% deposit premium. BankAtlantic, based in Fort Lauderdale, has spent recent years in multiple litigations and capital raises and is in the process of being sold to BB&T (BBT).

Before that, Tuttle was with Mercantile Bank as its Tampa market president and executive vice president. Mercantile bank was a subsidiary of the distressed South Financial Group, which was bought by TD Bank in 2010.

Though American Momentum is well capitalized, Tuttle says the task ahead won't be easy. The five-year-old bank is just beginning to build out its Tampa team after a recent growth spurt from several bank acquisitions last year. He has already brought on several Tampa bankers, primarily in commercial and small business lending, whom he has worked with before.

"There are always challenges and that's what makes this job fun," Tuttle says.

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