Community Banking Month Spotlight: Thurston First Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Thurston First Bank from Olympia, Wash. In the following interview, Communications and Branding staffer Sokha Meas Colbo explains what is unique about this local community bank.
What is unique about your community bank?
One thing that stands out to those who are looking for an alternative to their current bank is that we offer mobile branch banking. We have two mobile branch managers who spend their day driving to and from our client’s businesses to pick up deposits and meet their banking needs. This allows our small business owners to do what they do best, uninterrupted, without the hassle and liability of leaving their locations to drive to the bank.
On the lending side, we partner with a number of government and industry specialists and think “outside of the box” to come up with custom lending solutions to fit our clients’ needs.
We offer the most current technology solutions on mobile and online banking platforms that are highly competitive with any services offered by national financial institutions. We utilize the latest banking technology—we just don’t use it to answer our phones.
How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
Aside from providing unparalleled personal service and innovative banking solutions, we are community revitalization activists and we are passionate about our role as a community bank and supporting local projects that will improve the economic vitality of our downtown core. We moved the entire bank to Downtown Olympia by financing and repurposing a former department store into a mixed-use building with market-rate housing and a locally owned brewpub. In addition, President and CEO Jim Haley made a public announcement pledging $10 million in loans to improve our Community Renewal Area, one of Olympia’s most significant projects in 2015.
What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
On a scheduled cash shipment day, the assigned armored car arrived and picked up our shipment—business as usual. But as soon as the armored car was ready to back out, they discovered that they did not have a reverse gear! So all of the men in the building (which included senior management and one client), went out and pushed the loaded armored truck out of the parking stall so that they could be on their way. Hey—we may be bankers, but that’s not all we do!
What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
Our staff of 15 employees teamed up with local businesses—Ken Schoenfeld Furniture, KGY Radio, Trailer Services Co., and the Salvation Army—to collect items for The Great Coastal Gale of 2007 flood victims in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. We filled a 51-foot trailer with 40,000 pounds of emergency supplies, which included beds, water, food, cleaning supplies, clothes as well as $40,000 in cash donations.
TFB Director Ralph Munro spearheaded this endeavor while several of our employees volunteered numerous hours to collect, sort and load the trailer. President and CEO Jim Haley and a team from Trailer Services personally delivered the cash and supplies to a grateful Salvation Army in Grays Harbor County. Thurston First Bank received statewide recognition from Association of Washington Business for “Helping a Community In Need.”
What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
The Hands On Children’s Museum leadership team had a vision to not only relocate their existing storefront facility, but to expand it into something amazing that would feed the imaginations and minds of our youth and drive revenue into our capital city. Their vision called for a unique funding model that would require a private-public partnership. When all the other banks in town failed to come up with a lending solution, the Hands On Children’s Museum came to Thurston First Bank. We put our “outside-of-the-box” thinking to work and created a financing solution that allowed them to successfully launch the largest museum in the state of Washington. It has since grown to be a major early education resource and tourist attraction for the entire community, serving more than 300,000 visitors annually! We are passionate about banking, and we love seeing our clients passionate about a dream. At Thurston First Bank, we don’t get in the way of the dream; we find a way to make it happen.