Equity Bank growth spurs naming of new president

Equity Bancshares, the Wichita-based holding company of Equity Bank, has named Wendell Bontrager as its new president, effective Feb. 20.

Bontrager most recently served as region president for Old National Bank in Fort Wayne, Ind. He will report to Brad Elliott, who will continue as chairman and CEO of the bank and the holding company.

“We expect that Wendell will be a tremendous resource as we continue to grow from a $2 billion bank,” Elliott said, in a statement. “We’re at the point in our organization that merits the addition of a strong leader to help us continue our path of organic growth, and managing the newly merged companies into our organic growth platform.”

Elliott founded the bank in 2002 through the acquisition of National Bank of Andover and then expanded into Wichita in 2005, Kansas City in 2007, western Kansas in 2008, Topeka in 2011, Missouri in 2012, southeastern Kansas in 2015, and Arkansas in 2016.

Equity also said Thursday that it would move its original Andover branch at 225 West Central to a nearby location. Crews will break ground in the first quarter and expect to complete construction late in 2017.

Equity also announced a definitive merger agreement with Prairie State Bancshares, of Hoxie, Kan., with expected completion in 2017.