RJ Speaks may take great care in managing your money as financial center leader and assistant vice president at BB&T in Yadkinville but when he walks out the door he’s a dedicated family man.
Speaks was raised in Yadkinville until he was five years old when he and his family moved to Wilkes County. He returned to his roots his eight grade year and finished out his high school years at Forbush High School.
“Having lived here as a kid and then moving away and moving back again as a teenager was an adjustment,” Speaks said. “I loved all the friends that I had in Wilkes County and to not have them the next morning when you wake up was a big adjustment. I really enjoyed my time at Forbush though.”
While at Forbush, Speaks was a talented baseball and football player serving as a third baseman and offensive tackle respectively.
After graduation Speaks went on to Winston-Salem State University on a football scholarship.
“It was a great opportunity to not only go to Winston-Salem State University which is a historically black college and university and it was a wonderful institution,” Speaks said.
While he was enjoyed his time studying at WSSU he realized that it wasn’t the best location for his academic goals and he ventured on to Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. While at Catawba he continued to play both baseball and football and he discovered a place where he could feel at home.
“I felt like Catawba College would offer me better opportunities for the degree I was going for,” Speaks said. “For the next three years while I attended Catawba I truly enjoyed the experience and I truly enjoyed the atmosphere. The coaching staff we had were not only coaches but they were truly great friends.”
After completing a degree in business administration with a concentration in small business planning and financial management, Speaks ventured out into the work place. His first job was for a company called Vanguard where he spent a short time as a sales and service representative.
From there he went on to Security Finance working with consumer loans and finance.
He found his way into the banking world with his job at Central Carolina Bank in 2004. He excelled in the company, moving from financial service representative to assistant manager to branch manager. The seven work days a week and late evening hours started to wear him down, however, and when a position within the bank opened in Yadkinville he jumped on it.
“My wife was working in a teaching position at Boonville Elementary School at the time so she was already driving to Yadkin County every day from Winston-Salem and so it just made sense for both of us to work in Yadkin County,” Speaks said.
The couple finally made the move to Yadkinville and built a home seven years ago. Speaks said that if someone would have asked him if he’d be coming back to Yadkin County when he graduated high school he would have given a firm no.
“When I graduated from high school I said I would never move back to Yadkin County because there was nothing to do,” Speaks said. “I wanted to go and conquer the world. Now, coming back and being able to raise our children here is wonderful. Being in Yadkinville you don’t have a lot of the same worries that you would living in a larger city and it’s a great place to raise a family.”
Speaks remained with CCB through its change to Suntrust and was a loyal employee for eight years. Five months ago opportunity knocked once more and Speaks was offered a position with BB&T. Speaks saw an opportunity for growth and professional fulfillment so he took it.
“This is a great place to work and a great place to build a career,” Speaks said. “Here the sky is the limit. If you’re willing to put forth the effort and the time and do the things that are asked of you then you can grow yourself here.”
When Speaks isn’t greeting customers and fellow employees with an infectious smile he is making time for his family and still making time for the baseball field.
He’s married to Melissa, who he’s been with since their days at Forbush High School.
“My wife is awesome; she’s my rock,” Speaks said. “When I’m having one of those days here at the office she’s one of those that can talk me down of the ledge so to speak.”
The couple has two children; Ella who is 6 years old and Trey who is four years old.
The whole family stays busy with Melissa teaching special needs students at Yadkinville Elementary School and deacon at their church, Ella who cheerleads, dances, does gymnastics and plays softball and Trey who plays soccer.
“They are my little troopers,” Speaks said. “If I’ve had a bad day at work I can come home and as soon as I walk in the door they are jumping in my arms saying that they missed me and they love me. It’s those days that I truly cherish because I know that they are going to be teenagers someday and that’s not going to be the same.”
Speaks said that his favorite pastime is acting as umpire to Yadkin County baseball games. .
“To me it’s a stress reliever because when I’m at work I am dealing with folk’s money and trying to make sure that I’m making the right decisions for clients every single day,” Speaks said. “When I get out on the baseball field those kids don’t care what I do. They are just excited to see me when I show up to umpire their ball games.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.