Santa Cruz County Bank celebrates 15 yearsFebruary 6, 2019
SANTA CRUZ — For Santa Cruz County Bank’s CEO David Heald, being a community bank is about helping small businesses make hard choices.
“My biggest pride and my biggest thing about being a part of a community, a banker, is seeing a business be successful,” Heald said. “Watching a person that comes in, sits down in front of you, tells you their idea, has their business plan, they’re excited and you help them start their business.”
Heald became president of the bank in 2006. He started as chief credit officer when the bank opened in February 2004.
Sunday marked Santa Cruz County Bank’s 15th anniversary. To celebrate, the bank is holding its customer appreciation week through Friday. Each of the bank’s branches has free cookies from Pacific Cookie Company and coffee for customers.
In 2018, the bank had assets of $662 million, according to the bank’s website. The bank has branches in Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Watsonville, Capitola and Aptos. There are also ATMs and night depositories at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz and Deluxe Foods in Aptos.
At its inception, the bank was the only locally owned and operated bank in the county, according to Mary Anne Carson, the bank’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. She said that when Wells Fargo bought Greater Bay Bancorp, there was a void in the community for local banks.
The bank’s headquarters moved to 75 River St. in Santa Cruz last year, a project that cost close to $2 million, according to a previous Sentinel article. Wells Fargo was leasing the building prior to the move, Heald said.
Carson said there were 16 employees when Santa Cruz County Bank opened and now there are 97, including seasonal workers.
“We’re very employee driven,” she said. “What makes people happy, what do they enjoy doing, how do they enjoy contributing to the community? We’re all behind it and we enjoy it.”
In 2018, employees contributed a total of more than 600 hours of community service, according to Carson.
Heald said community involvement was implemented by the bank’s founders.
“We wanted the community to be in the bank, not just another bank on the corner some place,” he said. “Our engagement within the community was important, if not as important as the overall financial performance of the bank.”
Heald said that one year, instead of giving holiday bonuses, he gave each employee $100 to give to the community.
Carson said that each branch votes on a nonprofit they want to support for the month. Each Friday is Community Giving Friday and if they want to, employees can dress down and put in $5 toward that nonprofit, according to Carson.
Heald said each employee can donate up to 40 hours toward community service for these organizations each year. He said these hours are contributed during the employees’ work hours.
“We work hard but we also have fun in our community support,” said Carson.
Santa Cruz resident Byron Finney became a bank customer 14 years ago. He said his experience with Santa Cruz County Bank isn’t like that of any other banks he’s belonged to.
“When financial solutions are needed, they have been able to deliver no matter what we have brought to the table,” he said in a prepared statement. “They are heavily involved in the community, have a team of personable and trusted people and have provided exceptional service to us for many, many years.”
Finney said he and his family have been able to fast track and simplify their financial needs because the bank can respond quickly to time-sensitive questions.
Heald said the bank’s biggest struggles has been how people perceive what it can offer compared to national banks. He said they use the same technology platforms as major banks, such as Wells Fargo and Chase. He said these major banks are its biggest competitors.
Heald said the bank’s My Business Mobile app will be released Monday. The app will allow people to view account balances, transfer funds, deposit checks and more, according to the bank website.
While the bank has been heavily involved in the community, it has also been recognized. In 2018, the bank received the 2018 Business of the Year award from the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce, according to the bank website.
Heald said the bank provided more than $200 million in loan lending last year, in other words, $200 million worth of funding to the community.
“We want a relationship with you, not a transactional experience,” said Carson.