When the trio of banking executives behind Waterford Bank N.A., conceived an institution, they wanted a place that looked more like an upscale hotel than a branch office.
More importantly, they wanted local people making local decisions, not executives in faraway offices who they said sometimes don’t fully understand the area’s customers and environment.
“We just don’t see doing business that way,” said Larry Boyer, the bank’s executive vice president. “And a lot of our customers don’t want to do business that way.”
The five-year-old bank has succeeded on both accords, especially with this year’s expansion projects.
Waterford spent about $4 million to quadruple the size of its North McCord Road headquarters in Sylvania Township this summer and opened a loan production office in rented space on the town square in Bryan two weeks ago.
Now officials are planning a Nov. 1 opening for a $1 million full-service branch in downtown Perrysburg.
Mr. Boyer, along with fellow longtime area bankers Michael Miller and Michael White, established Waterford in August, 2007, with $27.5 million in start-up capital.
“We felt when we were looking to start the bank there was an opportunity for a locally owned community bank that had a focus on business,” said Mr. Miller, Waterford’s chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. White serves as the bank’s chief operating officer.
Waterford has grown significantly since then. As of June 30, the bank had assets of more than $381 million, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Officials say about 65 percent of their business is commercial, though they also are growing their mortgage business.
Mr. Boyer said Waterford had the largest mortgage business in Lucas County by dollar amount in August.
The bank, which primarily works within 60 miles of its headquarters, has been hiring. Waterford started with 19 employees and was up to 41 at the beginning of this year. With the opening of its new offices, the bank has nearly 60 employees. All are shareholders.
Mr. Miller said the bank had been eyeing the Bryan market for some time, and was able to hire the two local bankers they considered the best in town.
“There’s a fair amount of commercial and industrial activity in Bryan. For a community that size, there’s a lot of business,” Mr. Miller said.
For now, the Bryan office will handle only mortgage, consumer, and commercial lending. Bank officials said they will probably file an application with regulators sometime after the first of the year that would allow them to make the office a full-service branch.
Perrysburg drew interest because of its concentration of higher-income households, which is primarily whom the bank caters to, and part of the reason for its more luxurious locations.
“We want to just create this aura of being little more upscale. We’re not trying to be snobby by any means, but we’re probably not the bank for the guy who lives paycheck to paycheck,” Mr. Miller said.
Mr. White said what sets Waterford apart from other banks is the staff and the way it interacts with customers.
Employees have an average of 20 years’ experience in banking, and in five years only one employee has left Waterford Bank.
“I don’t think we really have any special products,” Mr. White said. “It’s really how you deliver that product, the service and the delivery.”
The new headquarters added 28,000 square feet to the existing 10,000-square-foot office, including an impressive entryway staircase, a new board room, an employee exercise room, and enough office space to grow into. And officials think the bank has plenty of growth potential over the next five to 10 years.
Mr. Miller said no other branches are in the works, but he could potentially see them looking in downtown Toledo, West Toledo, or Bedford Township, Mich.
Mr. Miller believes they can reach $2.5 billion in assets.
“It kind of will depend on the market and the opportunities that are presented. We’re not going to do anything stupid in terms of taking on too much risk just for the sake of growth, but I think we’ve got the right people and they're motivated,” he said.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at:email@example.com or 419-724-6134.