When First National Bank of Mertzon called Will Slaughter about a job, the bank was looking to tap into a too rare talent.
Slaughter could talk comfortably with the customer looking to borrow millions for a new business venture and with the one who needed a few hundred dollars to make it through the week. And each would feel equally valued.
Slaughter, 33, shrugs off the compliment. That’s simply how people treat one another in the Pecos County town of Sheffield, population 200, where he was raised.
“Growing up on a ranch, you learn how to interact with everybody – from the guy looking to buy livestock to somebody just day-working for you,” he said.
That’s not the only way Sheffield helped shape Slaughter.
Slaughter grew up on a meat-goat ranch that has been in his family for generations. There, he learned the same values as the youngsters at the West Texas Boys Ranch, where he serves on the board of directors.
“You learn a work ethic,” he said. “You’re expected to do things. And you know that.”
His parents and grandparents were also part of the “full tribe” that raised him. His father and grandfathers Slaughter and Mertz were never the loudest voices in the room. Instead, they were men of commitment and action. That became Slaughter’s leadership compass.
“You know it when you see it,” he said of leadership. “You can meet a person for five minutes and know what kind of person they are. It doesn’t always take a lot of words. They can just get it done.”
And the Slaughter clan revered the First National Bank of Mertzon. Because of family ties to banking, Slaughter began eyeing it as a career in high school. When he got the call about working at the bank, the even-keeled Aggie was “excited about it from the start.”
“Where I grew up, that was a bank a lot of people – even two hours away – would drive all the way to San Angelo or Mertzon just to bank with,” he said. “When you hear that your whole life, it was one of those opportunities you can’t let pass up.”
Even as one of the bank’s senior vice presidents, Slaughter still gets to know customers personally. Not only is it the neighborly thing to do, he said knowing what matters most to people “gives you an edge in business.”
His Slaughter Brothers ranching operation with his sibling gives him a chance on holidays and weekends to get away from the office. While he enjoys the family ranch, he also feels a sense of responsibility to ensure its long-term success.
“You see first-hand your grandfather, your dad, everybody doing it,” he said. “So just the drive to keep everything together and growing is something that’s always resonated with me. It’s always been special to me, especially to be able to work with your sibling. It’s been a lot of fun – even though sometimes you get in a little argument here and there.”