Jon E. Hitchcock to Retire


@ABABankers #bestbank #retirement


Hitchcock received his BBA in 1974 from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a Certified Public Accountant.  He began his career at Ernst & Ernst in San Antonio, TX and joined Pioneer Bank as Vice President & Treasurer in September of 1980. In July 1982, Hitchcock was promoted to Senior Vice President, and in December of 1982, he was elected to the Board of Directors. From January 1988, he served as Executive Vice President, and in 2002, he was promoted to his current position, Chairman, President & CEO.

Under Hitchcock’s leadership, Pioneer Bank has grown in assets from $130 million in 1980 to over $800 million today. The institution currently has fourteen banking branches and two mortgage origination offices throughout New Mexico, Texas and Colorado.

The banking industry has seen many changes recently, and Hitchcock has been instrumental in keeping up with technology and implementing new and exciting products to help customers with their finances. Because of his vision, Pioneer now offers a large variety of technology- based products as well as an increased online presence.  Hitchcock will continue to serve on Pioneer’s Board of Directors as Non-Executive Chairman.

Hitchcock is well known throughout New Mexico for his community involvement. He is a past-President of the New Mexico Bankers Association, board member at Mountain States Mutual Casualty Company, Lovelace Regional Hospital, and New Mexico Oil Corporation.  He is a past-President of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation (RCC-EDC). While with the RCC-EDC, he was involved in bringing American Airlines air service to Roswell and was instrumental in convincing American to extend service to Phoenix.

He is an Elder at First Presbyterian Church, President & Director of the Roswell Symphony Orchestra Foundation, Treasurer of the ENMU-R Foundation, a member of Roswell Rotary, New Mexico Amigo’s, and the Civil Air Patrol.  In addition, Hitchcock is a lifetime member of Leadership New Mexico and earned the 2004 Outstanding Leader Award from the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association. He was also a board member on the Roswell Chamber of Commerce from 2001-2007, and named the 2010 Citizen of the Year by the Roswell Board of Realtors. He is also a retired Lt. Colonel (Field Artillery) having served with the 49th Armored Division, TX Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.  He and his wife, Dietta, have been married for 21 years and have two children, Dorothy and Wiley.

With Hitchcock’s retirement, Pioneer Bank also announces the promotion of Stephen P. Puntch to Chief Executive Officer, Christopher G. Palmer to President & Chief Operating Officer, and Nicole R. Austin to Executive Vice President & Chief Lending Officer.

stephenpuntchStephen P. Puntch joined Pioneer Bank in 1984 as Vice President responsible for mortgage loan secondary marketing and securities portfolio management.  In 2002, Puntch was elected to the Board of Directors and appointed Executive Vice President of Pioneer Bank.  Prior to joining Pioneer Bank, Puntch worked in Houston, Texas as a licensed institutional account executive for Prudential Securities and Oppenheimer & Co.  Puntch graduated from Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1978 with a Bachelor in Business Administration degree. He and his wife Bonnie have been married for 29 years and have two sons, Stephen and Taylor.

christopherpalmerChristopher G. Palmer, CPA, held various positions with The Citizens Bank in Farmington, New Mexico leaving as Vice President-Investments before coming to Pioneer in 2004.  Palmer was Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Pioneer until 2015 when he added Chief Operating Officer to his responsibilities.  With the addition of Chad Cole as Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer in July 2016, Palmer focused on Bank operations in preparation for his transition to President.  Christopher and his wife, Courtney, have been married for 22 years and have three children, Kellen, Cole and Evie.

nicoleaustinNicole R. Austin began her banking career in 2000 as an assistant to the president at a local bank.  She worked as the supervisor of loan servicing and then as the compliance officer before that bank sold.  She joined Pioneer Bank in 2008 as a commercial loan officer and became the Chief Lending Officer in 2016.  She has been married for 24 years to Doug Austin, senior minister at Country Club Road Church of Christ.  They have a son, Jonah.

Pioneer Bank was established on February 19, 1901 as the Roswell Building & Loan Association.  Through all the years and changes, the staff at Pioneer Bank has worked with enthusiastic dedication and determination to honor the integrity and goals of the original founders — a persistence and devotion it will continue into the future.


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