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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Centennial Bank Florida Regional President David Druey

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

David Druey's 20-plus years in banking and commercial real estate lending didn't quite start out of college. There were a few other jobs along the way, including a year as a scuba instructor right out of the University of Mississippi ⁠— fitting for a water-sports enthusiast ⁠— and a stint at his family's playground equipment company in his hometown of Madison, Mississippi.

Centennial Bank Florida President David Druey

He then earned a master’s degree in banking from Louisiana State University and entered the banking profession, soon joining Arkansas-based Centennial Bank. Druey has been with the bank since its inception in 1998 and previously served as a division president. Centennial, a community bank, currently has 165 branches in Arkansas, Florida, Alabama and New York, and a strong presence in commercial real estate lending.

In his current role, Druey oversees the bank’s Florida locations and over 400 people, while managing margins, costs and efficiency, with a strong focus on asset and credit quality. Active in the community, Druey volunteers for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.  

Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job?

Druey: I really enjoy meeting people and learning about their businesses. I’m naturally a curious person, so I always look forward to figuring out people’s whys, such as why they got into their business and why they stay in it. Since relationships are a key component of what I do, I also like to foster connections and bring people together.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Druey: When I was 12 years old, I worked for my dad, cleaning up construction sites while all my friends were at the pool in shorts and flip-flops. I’ll never forget how hard the labor was, I'm thankful to have experienced it. Not only did it give me a 360-degree view of the construction process, but insight into hard work as well.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Druey: It’s hard to imagine doing anything else besides banking because I’ve been in this profession for so long. If I were to choose, I would probably be a sport fisher. Nothing beats being out on my boat and catching a prized fish. That’s always rewarding.

Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?

Druey: My proudest deal occurred 20 years ago, and I considered it my “career loan.” It was one of the top five loans the bank had ever completed, for a $30M service contract. It was extremely challenging as I had virtually no background on the industry beforehand. Since every aspect of the loan was foreign to me, I had to educate myself, quickly, on the market. Even though I’ve secured bigger loans since then, nothing beats your first rodeo.

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Druey: My biggest failure involved doing a deal with a client who I didn’t fully vet or underwrite. Looking back, I should have done my own due diligence before approving the loan. It was definitely a learning experience.

David Druey and his wife, Kristin

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Druey: People who aren’t genuine. The older I get, the more I realize authentic people are hard to come by. I’m a very straightforward person and prefer when people act likewise.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Druey: That would have to be my boat. I spend a lot of time on the water with my family, so it’s a worthwhile (and somewhat extravagant) investment.

Bisnow: What motivates you?

Druey: Myself, first and foremost. I think you need to believe in yourself and like what you see in the mirror. You can’t be successful in the long term if you’re not your own motivating factor. It needs to come from within. Only then will you be able to fulfill other aspects of your life.

Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE?

Druey: When underwriting a deal, the best thing you can do is try to make it not work. You have to literally try to kill the deal. Look at it from an exit strategy standpoint and test all potential red flags. If it passes your test points, then you know it’ll be a worthwhile venture.

Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Druey: Moving my family to South Florida five years ago. I was originally in charge of $1.5B in assets and was moving into a new market to oversee $125M in assets with many more bank branches. It may have been a risky idea at the time, but thanks to faith in myself and the company, we’ve significantly grown our South Florida footprint.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Druey: Things I can’t control. I’m a pretty good sleeper when I can rest my head at night knowing that I did everything in my power for a favorable outcome.

David Druey and family members

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?

Druey: Anywhere I can go on my boat. Nothing makes me happier than being in the sun and sand.

Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

Druey: I have a big family, so spending time with them is a priority. Some of my favorite memories are of teaching my kids how to swim and fish.

Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?

Druey: The repurposing and redevelopment of big-box retail spaces. As e-commerce continues to grow, re-creating spaces based on surrounding density and capacity in urban markets will be a driving factor in revitalizing retail in up-and-coming areas, such as Wynwood or Pompano Pier in Florida.

Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Druey: I was an Olympic torch bearer for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. You could say this prompted my interest in fitness, as I’ve now competed in multiple triathlons and Iron Man competitions.

Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?

Druey: Making my family and company proud of me. I believe if you do the right thing, you're well on your way to creating a legacy without having to worry about it every step of the way.