Wenatchee, WA (PRWEB) February 3, 2011
Wheatland Bank is now open for business in its brand new 5400 square foot banking center at 1115 N. Miller St. Wheatland, which had been operating its Wenatchee branch in an adjacent temporary location since December of 2007, purchased the former Burger King site for $700,000, demolished the old fast food restaurant and embarked upon a $1.2 million construction project of its new state of the art banking center.
The new full service banking facility will allow Wheatland to offer services and conveniences previously not available at its temporary location, such as drive thru banking and ATM services, a more traditional teller line, and all-inclusive customer service and lending centers. Wheatland’s new innovative Wenatchee branch is customized with a palate of design concepts representing elements unique to Wenatchee’s and Wheatland’s roots and unique geographic and industry bases. The branch includes eco friendly “green” features such as reclaimed barn wood, natural stone and energy saving fixtures, blended with modern plasma TVs and a video conference enabled meeting center.
Susan Horton, Chairman, CEO and President said “We are very excited about expanding our services and commitment to the Wenatchee community. The strategic decision to enter the Wenatchee market was based on several factors. Not only was Wenatchee identified as a market with significant growth potential, but it was a perfect fit for Wheatland’s expertise in agricultural, business and real estate lending and banking services.” She said Wheatland’s team believed there was room for a strong local community bank that had the expertise and appetite to serve all of Wenatchee’s industry sectors, including agriculture. Horton remembered a time not long ago when other banks questioned Wheatland’s long standing commitment to agricultural lending, suggesting it was too risky and choosing instead to concentrate most of their lending efforts in real estate. The recent financial crisis has reminded everyone of the importance of the fundamentals of risk management. “It isn’t that agricultural lending is riskier than real estate lending, it’s that diversification, industry expertise and conservative underwriting and credit administration are the essentials of any high quality loan portfolio regardless of the industry sector”.
Wheatland Bank has remained strong and stable throughout the worse financial industry crisis since the Great Depression, earning the highest possible five star rating by Bauer Financial. In fact, Wheatland Bank is the only five star Bank in Wenatchee, Spokane and every other market it serves except one. Susan attributes this safety and strength to sound risk management at all levels of the Bank.
Susan noted that a successful branch is not only dependent on a great location and facility, but on having the right team of employees in the local Wenatchee community. She stated that Wheatland Bank’s Wenatchee team has a wealth of banking and lending expertise in the greater Wenatchee community. She credits Wheatland’s loan officers and customer service personnel, with the early rapid success in Wenatchee. Their efforts and the new business generated by loyal customers made this new branch project feasible. Of its 13 branch locations throughout eastern and central Washington, Wheatland’s Wenatchee branch had the second largest loan portfolio in the Bank at December 31, 2010. Well capitalized after a successful private placement of its common stock in 2010, and flush with liquidity from recent strong core deposit growth throughout all its markets, Wheatland Bank is ready to lend.
The entrance into the Wenatchee market by Wheatland was followed by the addition of new branches in Chelan, Yakima and Ellensburg during 2008 as part of a major Central Washington expansion plan. A significant portion of the Bank’s recent growth has been directly associated with these new branches; as of December 31, 2010, the Bank’s Central Washington branches accounted for approximately $120 million in total customer accounts.
Wheatland Bank, formed in 1979 in Davenport, Washington, is a locally owned independent community bank. Wheatland Bank’s commitment to eastern and central Washington is strong and has deep roots. It’s a commitment that is kept alive with powerful local ownership and decision making. In the 32 years since inception, Wheatland Bank has grown to 13 branches and over $260 million in assets.