With financial reform looming, it’s an interesting time to be ramping up in the banking business. But that’s exactly what Malcolm Holland is doing. And so far, it’s paying off.

The former president of First Mercantile Bank, Holland formed Veritex Holdings and acquired the $140 million Professional Bank last year. A few months later he added the $150 million Fidelity Bank. Along the way he raised a whopping $54 million from 190 investors.

Holland’s parents were Dallasites, but they fell in love with Hawaii after Holland’s father was stationed there in the Air Force, and that’s where they settled. They sent their son to the private Punahou School in Honolulu, where one of his classmates was the current President of the United States. “I didn’t realize that Barack Obama was Barry Obama until about two years before he ran for President,” Holland says. “In high school, Barry was a lot heavier and he had a big Afro.”

He likes Obama well enough, but he prefers to golf with W. Former President Bush also happens to be an investor in Veritex. Holland moved to Dallas in 1978 to attend Southern Methodist University—at the insistence of his parents, both SMU grads—and never left. At age 26, after a couple of banking jobs, he joined Michaux Nash Jr. and Mike Kowalski to launch EastPark National Bank.
“I promise you, we bought a book called How to Open a Bank, and all we had was a pencil,” Holland says with a laugh.

EastPark was sold nine years later.  As the industry’s consolidation wave continued, Holland changed business cards several times before becoming Texas CEO of  Colonial Bank. During a seven-year run, he grew the group’s assets from $500 million to $1.6 billion. But troubles in other markets led to the collapse of the bank in 2009. Holland decided to strike out on his own, after efforts to buy the Texas division from Colonial fell through.

While most other buyers are focusing on distressed financial institutions, Holland says he’s targeting “clean” banks. Professional’s three branches have already switched over to the Veritex name (a combination of veritas, which means “truth,” and Texas). The four Fidelity branches were scheduled to convert  in late June.

With about $350 million in assets now, Holland’s goal for Veritex is to reach $1 billion, through both organic growth and by becoming an “acquirer of choice.”

“I’m passionate about what I’m doing,” he says. “I don’t know how to do anything else.”