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Mario Quintanilla – Invigorating Dallas’s Hispanic Business Community

Four years ago, Mario Quintanilla left a 23-year stint at a global banking behemoth to focus on providing financial services to businesses in Oak Cliff and West Dallas.

Within the first year of making the bold move to Frost Bank, Quintanilla far exceeded the business goals the Texas bank aimed to reach over a four-year period. Today, Quintanilla is senior vice president of commercial banking
at Frost, managing a team of nine lenders and four admins at three financial centers — Oak Cliff, Duncanville and Uptown. What started as a community leader role in the Oak Cliff location Frost opened in May 2015 has also
expanded to sales manager of the team he used to report into. His team focuses on small to midsize business loans of up to $10 million.

“I was going to do well or fall flat on my face, but I wanted to take on that challenge to create something, do something special out there, something that had never been done before in this organization,” Quintanilla told Infórmate DFW regarding his decision to help Frost develop business and brand recognition in the predominantly Hispanic Oak Cliff and neighboring area.”

“If you go out to Oak Cliff now and ask about Frost Bank, you’ll get a lot of people who recognize the name,” the Dallas-born banker added. “What I’m most proud of is that we brought in some marquee names — very well-known, established businesses in the community that have been here 40-plus years — because of the way we do business and their trust in me.”

Quintanilla largely credits Frost’s relationship building culture for the positive reception in the Hispanic community. While larger banks tend to focus on business volume and base loan decisions quickly and solely on credit scores, Quintanilla says Frost emphasizes financial education. Helping entrepreneurs understand the financial information and steps needed to grow their business is essential.

“We’re not in a hurry, it’s allowed to sit down with people — Frost wants to get to know the business and you,” Quintanilla explained. “It gives me an opportunity to leverage my lending experience and draw a roadmap of what entrepreneurs need to do to get to the next level. With our Hispanic community, we’re often guiding businesses on the things they need to be thinking about and reporting to avoid running into challenges.”

When Frost approached Quintanilla, he was happy at JPMorgan Chase, enjoying his work in asset-based lending where billion-dollar loans were the norm. It was only after his wife asked what had been the most rewarding part of his career that he started considering joining Frost. He realized his most rewarding days were at Chase predecessor Bank One in the 90s, when he was doing small to midsize business loans of $100,000 to $10 million in southern Dallas.

“You feel like you’re making a difference,” Quintanilla said. “When you’re negotiating a billion-dollar facility, you’re sitting across a CFO and his accounting team, and it’s all pretty much taken for granted. I started thinking of all the fond memories, helping a small-business entrepreneur in our community get to that next level, providing the liquidity to grow. They were so appreciative.”

Among those fond memories is a construction loan he arranged for a nonprofit organization for the building of 53 affordable housing units. He additionally worked with the City of Dallas and other entities on subsidies to make the units’ mortgages more affordable for families. The brick homes still form part of the West Dallas community today.

Quintanilla, a father to two daughters, was the first in his family to attend college. He obtained a bachelor’s in business administration, with a focus on finance and accounting, from Texas State University. While his experience
and Frost’s support have influenced his recent success, Quintanilla proudly admits his parents’ hard work serving Dallas’s Hispanic community is also a key factor.

While business owners weren’t familiar with the Frost name when Quintanilla approached them, they recognized and welcomed his family name. His parents, born in Texas and raised in Mexico, opened a furniture store in the 1950s in what is now Uptown but used to form part of Little Mexico, the former center of Mexican-American community life in Dallas from the early 1900s to 1980s. The family business, which has evolved into a larger, diversified operation, was among the first in Dallas to provide financing to Mexican immigrants and help them establish credit.

With the legacy comes a strong work ethic and empathy toward entrepreneurs. Quintanilla and his siblings grew up
working at the furniture store after school and on Saturdays. They experienced their parents’ struggle to keep the business and household afloat.

“When entrepreneurs tell me that they couldn’t make a payment or this month’s mortgage, I understand,” Quintanilla said. “They’re not talking to someone who just went to college, I’ve lived through that. My parents, if they had a good week at the business, we ate meat, if they didn’t, we ate beans and rice. Dad always paid his bills first and … whatever was left was what was left. In every business there are struggles. I can relate.”

Quintanilla says his measurement of success is when clients call him for advice, seeking him as a trusted advisor. And everything points to more Latinos and the Dallas-Fort Worth community receiving his expert guidance.

A former Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce chair, Quintanilla currently serves on the boards of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce; Dallas Services, a nonprofit organization that manages a vision clinic and an arts school; and Transformance (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Service).

Plus, his service to the city that watched him grow will be evermore present as one of 13 members of the prestigious DFW International Airport Board. Infórmate DFW learned he was elected for the board’s 2019-2021 term moments before going to press and congratulates Mario Quintanilla on his latest achievement!

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