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SEASCAPE — Ten-year-old Santa Cruz County Bank celebrated a record year in loans, re-elected current board members and declared the recession over at an annual shareholder’s meeting Thursday at Seascape Resort.
It’s been “a pretty phenomenal year,” said Angelo DeBernardo Jr., a senior vice president and senior lending officer at the bank.
The bank booked $116 million in new loans, $15 million more than in 2012, and, according to federal data, gained local market share as of June 2013.
In general, the economic picture for the region is one of growth, said David Heald, CEO and president of the bank.
“I’d say over the last couple of years we have seen good growth and I would say that yes we have basically come out of (the recession),” Heald said. “We are now growing. A lot of the economic indicators do show that as well.” The Bay Area is booming and driving real estate prices “pretty hard” within the Bay area.
“We almost have to keep an eye on how hot is the market going to get again,” Heald said.
In addition to increasing loan totals and maintaining a strong credit portfolio, the bank has been focusing on professionals, municipalities, high net worth individuals, real estate and construction people as well as agriculture and green industries, such as solar companies.
The bank grew its Watsonville loans by $7 million to more than $42 million in 2013, primarily in the agriculture sector. The bank is also eyeing a window of opportunity to provide loans for diesel truck and equipment companies mandated to meet new federally imposed clean air standards.
For the seventh consecutive year, the bank has been the top lender for SBA loans in Santa Cruz County. From Oct. 1 2013 to March 31, the bank booked more than $17 million in SBA loans, ranking the bank the 29th largest SBA lender in California. Out of 200 lenders in local San Francisco Bay Area, the bank ranks fourth.
Gary Findley, a California banking analyst, consultant and shareholder, was at the meeting and noted how few community banks have both survived and thrived in the last decade. He described the bank’s performance as outstanding.
The bank has racked up several top rankings for SBA loans and financial performance, and is one of two institutions recognized from the class of 2004, Findley said. There were 11 banks that opened in 2004; six are still in existence.
“You top the list of those banking institutions that are also celebrating a 10-year anniversary,” Findley said.
“This was a very encouraging shareholders meeting,” said shareholder Dobie Jenkins, who pointed to positive signs in the economy such as a pick up construction, real estate and agriculture business. The former Watsonville planning commissioner said he was particularly enthusiastic about the bank’s focus on new agriculture loans. “I think the bank is poised for significant growth in the years ahead.”
Shareholders Karen Hibble and Tom Foster, were equally full of praise for the bank’s recent report, especially given the tough reality of the financial fallout of 2008.
“I think it’s fantastic that they’ve been so consistent and performed so solidly,” Foster said.
Shareholders re-elected current board directors to one-year terms Kenneth R. Chappell, George R. Gallucci, Thomas N. Griffin, Tila Guerrero, William J. Hansen, David V. Heald, Harvey J. Nickelson.
Headquarters: 720 Front St., Santa Cruz
Background: Founded in 2004
Leadership team: David V. Heald, president and CEO
Employees: 80, with two open positions “and more to come.”
Details: 831-457-5000; www.scountybank.com
Assets: $407 million, up 2 percent for the quarter and up 11 percent from a year ago.
Deposits: $366 million, up 2 percent for the quarter and up 10 percent from a year ago.