Dan Dellinger, a 30-year Nashville banking industry executive and Farzin Ferdowsi, CEO of Brentwood, Tennessee-based Management Resources Company (MRCO), team up to lead Sonata Bank.
Sonata marks the third bank collaboration for the duo. Dellinger, who serves as Sonata’s president and chief executive officer, was instrumental in the 2005 formation of Reliant Bank (now United Community Bank) where he spent 15-years as chief financial officer and served on the board of directors prior to Reliant going public in 2015. He also played a pivotal role in the 1997 formation of Premier Bank of Brentwood (now BancorpSouth).
Ferdowsi’s banking history runs deep in Middle Tennessee. He first worked with Dellinger while serving on the board at Premier Bank of Brentwood and later as an organizer of Reliant where he served as chair of the board of directors for 13 years. Prior to organizing Premier Bank, Ferdowsi held similar roles at Brentwood National Bank (now Wells Fargo). Ferdowsi will serve as the chair of Sonata’s board of directors.
Having exceeded its initial capital raise goal, Sonata has opened a deposit and loan production office at 761 Old Hickory Blvd., Brentwood and is focused primarily on commercial banking for small to medium-sized businesses. Sonata plans to open a full-service banking center in Brentwood in the fall. Sonata also operates a banking center in Sebree, Kentucky.
“We’ve assembled a talented team of experienced bankers that are deeply committed to helping local businesses,” said Dellinger. “Their proven success in the Nashville area market, along with our strong operations team, will be the cornerstone that ensures we deliver an extraordinary customer experience.
While the first stage for Sonata is its focus on community banking in Middle Tennessee, bank leaders plan to launch a national strategy focused on the quick service and fast casual restaurant industry, which includes more than 200,000 fast casual and quick service restaurants employing more than five million people in the U.S. Sonata will serve this national client base using modern delivery systems, eliminating the need for a large physical branch network.
“Owners and franchisees in the industry are seeing tremendous growth opportunities but face increasing pressures around employee acquisition and retention,” said Dellinger. “We see many possibilities to combine the delivery of banking services and other rewards and benefits to employees via an integrated digital app. Not only will it help the employees meet their financial needs, but it is also a differentiating benefit that employers can offer as they work to attract and retain staff.”
Ferdowsi and several additional Sonata investors have extensive experience in the QSR sector and across a broad range of restaurant brands.
“The QSR market has the highest employee turnover of any industry at 144%. We see an opportunity to reduce this turnover by serving workers’ banking needs,” said Ferdowsi, whose company has more than 2,000 employees serving numerous businesses including 90 Taco Bell restaurants in Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky and Atlanta. “Far too many workers in our industry are unbanked or underbanked. It has really become both a business and personal mission to make a difference with this underserved segment of the market.”
Sonata will introduce its technology-driven platform and services for the QSR market in the second quarter of 2023.
About Sonata Bank
Sonata Bank is a tech-forward financial services company led by banking industry leaders. As both an FDIC-chartered bank and technology focused business, Sonata provides a full suite of banking products and services to the Nashville, Middle Tennessee and Sebree, Kentucky markets. With a focus on serving the quick service and fast casual restaurant industry, the bank also helps franchisee owners address recruitment and retention challenges by providing financial services and solutions for their employees. Sebree Deposit Bank, a 132-year-old institution in Sebree, KY was recently rebranded as Sonata Bank. Sonata Financial Holdings, Inc., is the holding company for Sonata Bank.