Every new city needs a good community bank, a thought that struck a retiring company chief financial officer some years ago.
In the early days of Goleta’s fight for cityhood, Bill Peeples took notice, deciding to found what was then called Goleta National Bank in 1989 as an important part of a growing infrastructure.
A bank could provide jobs and the necessary capital to help local businesses open and expand, he reasoned.
By the time Goleta incorporated 13 years later in 2002, Goleta National Bank was already patiently waiting, an established community keystone.
The bank, which became Community West Bank in 2004, will celebrate 25 years in business this month, with plans to host a private party for loyal supporting patrons.
“One of the cornerstones of a new and growing community is a bank,” bank president and CEO Martin E. Plourd told Noozhawk. “We’re trying to improve on just about everything we do. You can always hone customer service.”
November marks three years since Plourd came aboard as CEO, which sort of happened by accident. While chatting with the bank’s board of directors as a consultant about strategic planning, the discussion turned to asking Plourd, who was living in Temecula at the time, to stay on permanently.
He was a fan of Community West Bank’s strategy, changing its name in 2004 to better reflect its expanding footprint. Community West Bank has 130 employees at five branches in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura and Westlake Village.
Plourd was also proud of the bank’s commitment to lending out lots of capital to locals.
The bank is currently “loaned up,” Plourd said, meaning it has made $495 million in loans and has $557 million in total assets. Mortgage lending, relationship banking and small business administration (SBA) lending are the bulk of focus.
“As a community bank, we want to be able to help everyone in our corporate home,” Plourd said. “I think it’s fundamental for community banking strategy.
“I’d like to end my career here. It’s been just a wonderful time.”
Peeples, founding director of Community West Bank and board chairman, said he was most proud of the bank’s ability to weather the most recent recession, continuing to work without recapitalizing the bank and diluting ownership to the detriment of original shareholders.
Earlier this year, Community West Bank obtained the City of Goleta’s account, fittingly finally working for the community it set out to serve.