Now a consultant for the Hamilton State Bank, Burnette has an extensive background in banking, including 15 years as president and chief executive officer of Cherokee Bank.
While with Cherokee Bank, he oversaw all banking activities and established the bank’s policies, strategies and objectives.
After leaving his position as president in February when Hamilton State Bank purchased Cherokee Bank, Burnette set out to open Burnette Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc.
Burnette said he was successful in running Cherokee Bank through the recession, but the best strategic action for the shareholders, community and clients was a merger with a larger community. Once he left the bank, he was offered a consultant role with Hamilton State Bank, but he said he began thinking about the best option for himself beyond that position.
“Retirement was not appealing to me. I love a challenge,” Burnette said. “I felt deep down that the last chapter in my life had not been written. With my experience and skill sets, I knew that I was more prepared today than when I started my first bank when I was 30 years old.”
Now, Burnette is venturing out as the owner of a business that will allow him to continue to serve people in the community.
“In mediation, it’s all about helping people. Usually, there are two parties who have sought separate legal counsel because one is suing or has already sued the other over a dispute,” Burnette said. “As a mediator, I can assist the attorneys’ parties to settle a dispute without resorting to litigation, which is often expensive, time-consuming and stressful.”
While he admits he will miss helping develop staff members in order to further their careers in the banking field, Burnette said he enjoys being the decision maker of his own business. He leased office space at 150 North St., adjacent to the Cherokee County Historic Courthouse, and moved in this week.
“I made the decision that day and did it. Because I have confidence in myself, I enjoy that responsibility,” Burnette said.
As the owner of the new mediation and arbitration firm, Burnette seeks to build new relationships, mostly with attorneys in the community.
“By starting two banks, I learned that it’s all about building relationships. You have to earn the trust of shareholders to invest in the bank and the trust of clients that you have the desire and ability to meet their financial needs,” Burnette said. “I have many friends who are attorneys and those relationships are already built. But our county has grown over the years and is still growing. I will be seeking to gain the trust of many more attorneys.”
The firm will assist parties in the areas of business and commercial disputes, personal disputes, homeowner association and homeowner disputes, intergovernmental mediation, debt mediation, land development mediation, employment mediation and divorce and family mediation.
Burnette received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of West Georgia and certification of completion from the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University. He is an associate member of the American Bar Association and a member of the Mediation Committee and the Practice Management Committee within the Section on Dispute Resolution.
Burnette and his wife, Mary Beth, moved to Canton 15 years ago, and together they have six children and 14 grandchildren.