Mr. LaRoe planned to retire after selling Florida Choice Bank in 2006.

He set out with his wife on a lengthy, soul-searching journey across the U.S. in a mini motor home.  Along the way he began reading a book his brother had given him: “Let My People Go Surfing,” by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, the highly successful outdoor clothing and equipment company.  Chouinard’s philosophical approach to business greatly influenced Mr. LaRoe.  He became convinced that business can be holistic: in addition to making a profit, business can have a positive impact on society.  Chouinard developed a business model which integrated his principles and professional acumen, and he was able to experience enduring success without the degree of ethical compromise that often counters the contributions business leadership is capable of making to our environment and culture.

" Business can be holistic: In addition to making a profit, business can have a positive impact on society "

Ken LaRoe

When Ken returned from his cross-country journey, he decided to put his newfound philosophy to work. Ken has been a committed environmentalist all of his life. He strongly believes that efficient, wise use of our resources — conservation — is a fundamental virtue and an economic necessity, and he also believes that his environmental principles mesh perfectly with his conservative business principles. He returned to Eustis with a new passion: To put his principles to the test in the banking business. He began talking with some of his colleagues and friends and they all got very excited. They wanted to create a business that would be both profitable and focus on doing the right thing, believing that those two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive.

In 2009, after being granted the last bank charter in the state of Florida Mr.LaRoe opened First Green Bank.

With a team of very experienced and successful local bankers who had been with him throughout much of his career. All were eager to be part of this “local bank with a global mission” which endeavors to do the right thing for: the environment; its people; its community; and its shareholders. All were eager to be part of this “local bank with a global mission” which endeavors to do the right thing for: the environment; its people; its community; and its shareholders.

As the largest shareholder, Chairman and CEO of First Green Bank, Mr. LaRoe hopes to help turn Central Florida ‘green’ one customer at a time.  First Green Bank is the first bank in the eastern United States with an environmental and social mission.  In May of 2012, First Green Bank also became the first financial institution in the eastern United States to be granted membership in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).  The GABV is made up of the world’s leading sustainable banks, from Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America, to North America and Europe.  All of the members comply with sustainable banking principles and have a shared commitment to find global solutions to international problems, and to promote a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system.  With a values-based business model dedicated to the “triple bottom line” of “people, planet, and prosperity,” First Green Bank has been notably successful in showing Central Florida residents that there is a way to do business which is financially, environmentally and socially responsible.

First Green Bank has been notably successful in showing Central Florida residents that there is a way to do business which is financially, environmentally and socially responsible.

The bank attained profitability in a remarkably short period of time (19 months), and has continued to be profitable even in a difficult global and economic climate.  Additionally, First Green Bank is also the only bank in Lake County, and one of a select few banks in all of Florida, to receive the coveted 5-star BauerFinancial rating from the nation’s leading independent financial institution rating service – and First Green Bank has maintained the 5-star rating for ten consecutive quarters (two-and-a-half years).  With current assets just under $300 million as of August 2014, First Green Bank has loaned in excess of $239 million to local businesses and community members.

Mr. LaRoe is dedicated to not only providing sustainable banking opportunities to Central Florida residents through First Green Bank, but also to creating jobs for those interested in a career that adheres to their values of environmental and social awareness.

With each expansion the new branch is able to add several jobs to the Florida market and hire employees that will make an impact on their community and embody the bank’s values proposition. He knows that as important as it is to expand branches and bring in new customers to educate about the importance of eco-friendly practices, it is also equally important to create careers and stimulate Central Florida’s economy through community- and environmentally-friendly businesses.

Central Florida is now home to four First Green Bank offices, with plans to continue expanding to a new location each year, including a fifth office coming to Winter Park in early 2014. In 2011, a new headquarters office was built in Mount Dora to exceed the LEED Platinum standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council for energy efficiency, environmental sensitivity and the safety, security and comfort of its customers, workers and the community. In fact, it is one of the most environmentally-sustainable and energy-efficient bank buildings in the southeastern United States, and it is only the seventh privately-owned commercial building in the state of Florida to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Consistent with the bank’s mission, all branches are either built or retrofitted with as many green features as possible.

To further its sustainability goals, Mr. LaRoe has led First Green Bank in becoming a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club.

Mr. LaRoe was also a founding board member and currently serves on the board of the First Green Foundation, a 501c-3 non-profit committed to sustainable energy, water conservation and community supported agriculture. First Green Foundation currently provides grants to community residents and businesses for installation of solar panel systems as part of its goal to help Central Floridians utilize as much sustainable energy as possible.

Mr. LaRoe and First Green Bank have also been honored with numerous industry, sustainability and business awards, celebrating their commitment to Central Florida’s economic well-being and expanding sustainability practices. From 2010-2013, First Green Bank has been named one of “Florida’s Best Companies to Work For” by Florida Trend Magazine, as well as one of the “Top 100 Companies for Working Families" by the Orlando Sentinel for the last three years. First Green Bank also earned the “2011 Business of the Year” by the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Central Florida chapter, and it was named one of the "Top 100 Best Places to Work" in 2012 and 2013 by Outside Magazine. In addition, First Green Bank has been a “Florida Companies to Watch: Top 50 Winner” – one of the top 50 up and coming companies in the state for product innovation, entrepreneurial leadership, and social responsibility. It has also received a readers’ choice award by Orlando Business Journal for “Company with the Best Green Business Practices" in 2013, as well as being a finalist in two categories for Sustainable Florida Best Practice Awards. Most recently, in June 2013 and 2014, Mr. LaRoe was named as the Central Florida finalist for the prestigious Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” recognizing significant accomplishments of entrepreneurs around the world. In 2014, Mr. LaRoe was also appointed to the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of Florida. Most recently, Mr. LaRoe accepted the position as board member for the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). As the only North American on the GABV board, Mr. LaRoe is responsible for working with leaders around the world to find a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system.

Accolades

Some of the awards and commendations the Bank has received through June 30, 2014 are as listed below:

  • “Florida’s Best Companies to Work For” 2010 – 2012, by Florida Trend Magazine
  • “Top 100 Companies for Working Families” 2011 – 2014, by the Orlando Sentinel
  • “2011 Business of the Year” by the United States Green Building Council’s Central Florida Chapter
  • “America’s Greenest Banks,” by American Banker in 2012
  • Bauer Financial 5 Star rated – The only bank in Lake County, and one of a select few banks in all of Florida, to receive this rating. The Bank has earned the rating ten consecutive quarters.
  • #1 in Asset Quality in Central Florida, 2012 – 2013.
  • Peer Group Rankings – See below for the most recent results for 3rd Quarter 2013:
    • FIG Partners: #1 in Asset Quality in Central Florida as measured by the Texas Ratio
    • Hacker Johnson and Smith CPA: #1 in Asset Quality in Central Florida as measured by Non-current Assets to Assets, and tied for #1 in the state (one of 15 in the state with a 0 ratio). Hacker Johnson and Smith CPA: #1 in Loan Growth in Central Florida and 9th in the state (keeping in mind that this has been achieved even with the De Novo limits placed on First Green Bank by the FDIC). Hacker Johnson and Smith CPA: #1 in Asset Growth in Central Florida, again achieved even with De Novo limits placed by the FDIC; and, Highest Net Interest Margin in Central Florida at 4.43.
    • Hovde Group: #1 in Central Florida in: Non-performing Assets to Total Assets at .27; #1 in Texas Ratio at 0; #1 in Central Florida and #9 in the state in Loan Growth; #1 in Central Florida and 6th in the state in Net Interest Margin at 4.43%.
    • Monroe Financial Partners: #1 in Asset Quality in Central Florida
  • One of “The 359 Safest Banks in America,” by Investing Answers in 2012 – based on
  • Texas Ratios. Outside Magazine’s “Top 100 Best Places to Work,” 2012 & 2013
  • Sustainable Florida Best Practice Awards, 2012 – Finalist in two categories: Small Business and Green Building. 2014 – Finalist in two categories: Small Business and Leadership
  • Orlando Business Journal’s “Fast 50” 2013 – Ranked #15 of the fastest growing private companies in Central Florida based on percentage of revenue growth from 2010 – 2012.
  • Orlando Business Journal’s “Fast 50” 2014 – Ranked #39 of the fastest growing private companies in Central Florida based on percentage of revenue growth from 2011- 2013.
  • “Florida Companies to Watch: Top 50 Winner” Grow Florida – One of the top 50 up and coming companies in the state for product innovation, entrepreneurial leadership, and social responsibility.
  • “Best Banks to Work For,” in 2013 and 2014 American Banker.
  • “Company with the Best Green Business Practices.” Orlando Business Journal’s Annual
  • Reader’s Choice Award in 2013.
  • “Fast 100” Orlando Business Journal’s Fastest 100 Growing Companies in Florida, 2013
  • “Highest Facebook Engagement Rate of #100 global community banks and credit unions.” Financial Brand named FGB #50.
  • Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2013 – 2014 – Ken LaRoe was Florida Finalist.
  • American Business Stevie Silver Awards for “Company of the Year – Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance”
  • “C-Level Awards” Orlando Business Journal’s award for distinguished executives, 2014 – Daniel Dean, Head IT Officer

Turning Central Florida 'Green' One Customer At a Time.

Ken LaRoe has been dedicated to the economic well-being of Central Florida for more than 30 years.

He’s lent his expertise to numerous area businesses, and has also created numerous banking jobs, supported various non-profit organizations across the region, and helped to grow well-established Central Florida banks.

Personal Life

Born, raised, and schooled in Eustis, Florida, near First Green Bank’s headquarters, Mr. LaRoe earned a B. S. in management at Florida State University and a J.D. at The University of Florida College of Law. Mr. LaRoe is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). Ken is married to Cindy LaRoe, a physician who was also born, raised, and schooled in Eustis, Florida. In fact, Cindy was born exactly one week before Ken, at the same hospital, and they have been together since 1974. Ken and Cindy are also athletes and artists. Both are especially avid cyclists, having competed for several years and represented Team USA in the 2008 Duathlon World Championship in Italy. Ken also competitively completed the Ironman Florida triathlon in 2007 as well as other triathlons, duathlons, marathons, etc. over the years. The LaRoe’s have two children, Mackenzie and Zach and one grandchild, Rhapsody.

Early Professional Career

Mr. LaRoe’s professional journey began in the 1980s at Flagship Bank in Tavares, Florida. During his time with Flagship Bank, Mr. LaRoe worked his way to becoming vice president. He then joined SouthTrust Bank in Deland, Florida in 1987 as senior lender.  Mr. LaRoe subsequently enrolled at University of Florida College of Law where he graduated then returned to Lake County and practiced law.  In 1996, Mr. LaRoe joined Colonial Bank as president of the Lake County branch and was instrumental in the conversion of the bank from a troubled thrift to a viable commercial bank. After his success at Colonial Bank, LaRoe went on to found Florida Choice Bank in 1999 and was the largest shareholder, chairman and CEO.  Mr. LaRoe grew the bank to over $400 million in assets by 2006 when the bank was sold to Alabama National Bancorp.

First Green Bank

A local bank with an environmental and social mission

Mr. LaRoe planned to retire after selling Florida Choice Bank in 2006, and he set out with his wife on a lengthy, soul-searching journey across the U.S. in a mini motor home. Along the way he began reading a book his brother had given him: “Let My People Go Surfing,” by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, the highly successful outdoor clothing and equipment company. Chouinard’s philosophical approach to business greatly influenced Mr. LaRoe. He became convinced that business can be holistic: in addition to making a profit, business can have a positive impact on society. Chouinard developed a business model which integrated his principles and professional acumen, and he was able to experience enduring success without the degree of ethical compromise that often counters the contributions business leadership is capable of making to our environment
and culture.

Community Activities

Mr. LaRoe has served on numerous civic and non-profit boards including: The Sunrise ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens), BankServe, and The Florida Bankers Association. He served as chairman of Group 5 of the Florida Bankers Association and also as chairman of Florida BankPac. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association, and the Lake County Bar Association. A committed environmentalist, Mr. LaRoe served as chairman of Preserve Lake, a political action committee instrumental in passing a bond referendum for $36 million to purchase public land.

Mr. LaRoe also served as chairman of the Public Lands Acquisition advisory Committee (PLAAC) from 2006-2011, for which he was personally honored in 2011 by the Lake County Board of County Commissioners for his service on this committee formed by the Lake County Commission to purchase public lands. In addition, Mr. LaRoe is a founding member of the North American chapter of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).

Awards & Accolades

Celebrating commitment to Central Florida and sustainability practices.

Mr. LaRoe and First Green Bank have also been honored with numerous industry, sustainability and business awards, celebrating their commitment to Central Florida’s economic well-being and expanding sustainability practices. From 2010-2013, First Green Bank has been named one of “Florida’s Best Companies to Work For” by Florida Trend Magazine, as well as one of the “Top 100 Companies for Working Families” by the Orlando Sentinel for the last three years. First Green Bank also earned the “2011 Business of the Year” by the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Central Florida chapter, and it was named one of the “Top 100 Best Places to Work” in 2012 and 2013 by Outside Magazine.