Bank Leaders Tout Enhanced Presence in Central Oregon Following Merger
Washington Federal bank chiefs stopped by Bend recently as part of a promotional tour through NorthWest communities touting a broader reach following the institution’s merger with South Valley Bank & Trust (SVB), which has added 24 offices to the branch network in key demographic areas of Oregon.
The acquisition of SVB, formerly headquartered in Klamath Falls, has been facilitated over the last year, adding approximately $514 million of loans and $743 million of deposits and market share in areas including Central Oregon, the Klamath Basin and the Rogue Valley, with the group now formally brought under the Washington Federal banner.
During the event, attended by business and community leaders at Deschutes Brewery’s Mountain Room, Washington Federal President and CEO Roy Whitehead said, “We have now combined South Valley systems, changed out signs and have kicked off an advertising campaign including reintroducing ourselves to the Central Oregon community.
“Oregon has been an important market for us, and we may have been under-represented in markets where SVB has been positioned in the past, so this allows us to have a more prominent presence in parts of state where we can do well, including the Central Oregon market which has been hit hard but appears to have bottomed out with the future looking bright.
“We look at trends as being more stable, especially in light of rising median home prices, falling inventories and a seemingly healing market.
“The merger also provides strategic advantages, for example in expanding commercial banking opportunities to expand the focus in addition to consumer banking.
“It has also brought many more experienced bankers into the fold with a lot of talent to complement our approach.”
Whitehead alluded to Washington Federal’s reputation for being well capitalized as the metaphorical “Rock of Gibraltar” in the Pacific NorthWest, with total assets in excess of $13 billion, a “fortress” balance sheet and capital levels among highest in the nation.
He added, “We have been profitable every year since 1965, and are known as a bank that can be counted on through thick and thin, which is especially important in light of the turmoil of recent years. We remained profitable through the last major recession and are known for being a strong bank.
“We were of course impacted, as everyone else was, including charging off more loans in 2009-10 than during the previous 25 years, but it is a testament to our strength that we worked through the issues and did the best we could for the bank and our clients.
“We were established in Seattle in 1917 and have grown to operate in eight Western states with 190 branches. We have also had a presence in Oregon for 25 years, and have been in Bend since 1996.
“Following our expansion we are reintroducing ourselves to the local community. We love it here in Central Oregon, which has such a wonderful quality of life and quality of people, and we want to reinforce that we are ready to do more business and be a good partner and active participant in the local economy.”
Vice President Dave Huckins, who has been retained as business banking region manager for the Central Oregon area, added, “South Valley Bank started small but over the years grew and experienced a lot of change.
“After the challenges of recent history we looked for capital, with Washington Federal being one of the suitors, and we found a great partner.
“It took a while to work through the merger, but we have emerged with a lot of genuine people still here on our side with an abundance of integrity and talent, and we look forward to a new frontier in expanding business in Central Oregon.”
Whitehead added, “South Valley has long been known as a strong community partner with a loyal customer base and smart, helpful employees.
“We warmly and enthusiastically welcome them all to Washington Federal. It’s an honor to be able to expand our presence in southern and Central Oregon through a merger with this fine organization.
“We pledge to continue the South Valley tradition of active support for the neighborhoods, businesses and consumers in the communities served by them.”
As part of that enhanced commitment, Whitehead also pointed to Washington Federal’s recent pledge of $250 million in community funding in Oregon over the next five years.
Contributing to the pledge goal will be activities such as loans for affordable housing, economic development financing, revitalization projects, small business and farm loans, employee volunteer time and donations to charitable organizations.
To kick off the community development pledge, the company announced multiple steps toward the goal including a $10 million investment with Enterprise Housing Partners as part of the construction of a housing project for seniors in La Pine, with the facility also setting aside 10 units for homeless members of the community.
Some $50 million in mortgage loans will also go to assisting low-to-moderate income buyers to take advantage of historically low home prices, with the program allowing qualified applicants to borrow up to 95 percent of the purchase price in loan amounts up to $200,000.
Other gifts from the company and the Washington Federal Foundation include to Oregon charities including Bend Volunteers in Medicine ($5,000), Family Resource Center in Bend ($2,500), Bend Area Habitat for Humanity ($2,500) and The United Ways of Oregon ($25,000).
The Washington Federal Foundation supports programs and causes that help provide affordable housing for low and moderate income individuals, provides support for social and human service agencies which serve the needs of low income senior residents and donates to other charitable organizations supported by the organization’s employees who serve as volunteers or board members.
Dave Huckins: Dave.Huckins@southvalleybank.com, 541-330-6928.