Mountain Pacific Bank

Mountain Pacific Bank’s chief executive—Mark Duffy, president and CEO of Mountain Pacific Bank, opened a new loan production office last year to capitalize on growth from Washington state’s fishing industry.
Mountain Pacific Bank’s chief executive—Mark Duffy, president and CEO of Mountain Pacific Bank, opened a new loan production office last year to capitalize on growth from Washington state’s fishing industry.

Fishing for New Business in Washington State

Mountain Pacific Bank
Everett, Wash.

Assets: $155 million
Retail locations: Two (plus a loan production office)
Full-time employees: 33
Chartered: 2006

Community banks are the best at—and at their very best—helping people and communities thrive economically. Nothing is more beneficial to America’s Main Street economy than community banks making opportunity- and job-creating loans. And nothing is more fundamental to what community banks do.

The nation’s economy in recent years has ridden a roller-coaster recovery, and much of community bank lending was forced to share the rough ride. Steadily community banks are returning to focus on their most important work of lending. And many community banks across the nation are doing just that.

This month, Independent Banker spotlights four community banks that have been successful at growing their lending activities in different ways. They’re responding to demand, finding a niche to serve well, and simply finding ways to do more of what they’ve always done.

These are just a few industry snapshots of success. Look for more on the pages of this magazine in the months ahead.

For most community bankers, fishing is a weekend hobby. For Mark Duffy, president and CEO of Mountain Pacific Bank in Everett, Wash., fishing represents an important chunk of business.

Loans to commercial fishermen plying their trade in the waters off Alaska compose 21 percent of the bank’s portfolio.

“Most of the fishermen live down here and take their boats up to Alaska to fish,” Duffy says. “It’s been a good industry for us. We can secure our loans with the boat and also the quota [of fish the fisherman is allowed to catch].”

Netting the business of fishermen is just one area Mountain Pacific Bank focuses on. The portfolio of the $155 million-asset bank, which Duffy founded in 2006, includes 48.6 percent loans on income property, 15 percent residential, 13.5 percent commercial and industrial, 1.3 percent consumer, and 0.6 percent construction and development.

Strong base

Everett is located on Puget Sound about 30 miles north of Seattle, and the community benefits from the proximity to Microsoft, Boeing and other big regional employers. Naval Station Everett, home to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, employs about 6,000 sailors and civilians.

Duffy says those stable economy drivers helped the area break out of the recession sooner than many other areas. “We’ve had strong growth since around 2010 or 2011, so we’ve been lucky,” he says, adding that several other community banks in the area did not survive the recession. “Our growth has been based on the strong economy, but the other local banks closing helped.”

The improving economy, however, means the surviving banks are now stabilized and offering renewed competition to Mountain Pacific Bank, Duffy says. The competition extends to employees—he says he has lost a few good credit analysts in the past year because other banks offered more money.

Growth ahead

To capitalize on the fishing business, Mountain Pacific Bank opened a loan production office last year in Ballard, a Seattle neighborhood with deep Norwegian roots that attracts many commercial fishermen. The bank recently received regulatory approval to expand the Ballard production office into a branch, and Duffy says that will happen in the first quarter of 2015.

“We also got back into construction lending last year, even though we got bit before,” Duffy says. “This time we’re doing smaller projects and making sure the owner has some skin in the game. And our underwriting is stricter.”

In 2015, Mountain Pacific Bank is seeking new niches for lending. Duffy says finding other markets similar to the maritime niche, which have less competition and less price sensitivity, is his goal. Whether that happens or not, the president is optimistic about his bank’s future, especially following the recession.

“I tell people it’s a lot more fun these days,” he says, “being able to make loans and help people rather than
trying to collect loans.”