About / Downey Bridgwater

Downey Bridgwater

Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Bridgwater has more than 43 years of banking experience at various banks in the Houston market ranging in asset size from $500 million to $110 billion. Throughout his banking career he has been responsible for numerous domains within the banks he has been affiliated with such as operations, credit analysis, credit administration, special assets, loan review and lending. He has had substantial interaction with regulatory agencies including the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve, the Texas Department of Banking, SEC, and the US Treasury Department.

He is adept at managing bank liquidity, funding, and capital as well as identifying, assessing, managing, and mitigating key risks including credit, operational, market/interest rate and reputation risk. He participated in or led 18 acquisitions, mergers or dispositions including related conversions, divestitures and the integration of whole entities, specific assets, and asset pools.

A native of Oklahoma, he began his banking career at the First National Bank & Trust of McAlester, Oklahoma during college. He began his Houston banking career with Allied Bank in 1978 where he held positions of increasing responsibility over a 12-year period, including serving on the merger team for Allied Bancshares, Inc., and First Interstate Bancorp.

After the sale of Allied, he was a partner in a private real estate development and construction company until he was recruited to Charter Bank and ultimately served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Banking and a key member of the Energy and Real Estate Lending Groups at Charter Bank (later acquired by Nations Bank). In 1995 he was recruited to Sterling Bank and served as the Office CEO for the Memorial Office and became President of Sterling Bank and Sterling Bancshares, Inc. in 1997. He subsequently assumed the additional roles of Chief Executive Officer in 2002 and Chairman of the Board in 2006 of Sterling Bank and Sterling Bancshares, Inc. During his tenure at Sterling, Mr. Bridgwater was responsible for leading strategic planning, organic growth and profitability, mergers and acquisitions and related conversions and integrations, risk management and regulatory compliance as well as managing all other subsidiaries of the holding company and the bank until its sale to Comerica, Inc. in 2011. After the sale to Comerica, Mr. Bridgwater served as the President of the Houston Market for Comerica for the next IO years.

He retired from banking in 2021 and dedicated his time to ranching and other family-owned businesses until joining Gulf Capital Bank’s board of directors in June of 2023 followed by his appointment as Chief Executive Officer in September of 2023.

He is a graduate of the University of Houston, is a Distinguished Alumnus and has received numerous other awards from the University. He is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and received its Joe Jaworski Award. He is the past Chair of the Texas Medical Center and is currently a Life-Director. He has previously served on the boards of the Greater Houston Partnership, the Harris County Housing Finance Corporation, the Board of Visitors at the University of Houston, the Deans’ Advisory Board at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, the Development Board of the UH College of Medicine, the Finance Council, and the Development Board of the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston. He also belongs to several social organizations, clubs, and Orders.

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