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WITHSTANDING TEST OF TIME

Bank of Stockton marks 150 years Friday

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WITHSTANDING TEST OF TIME

The Bank of Stockton branch at 660 North Main Street in Manteca.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED August 10, 2017 1:41 a.m.

It isn’t by chance that arguably the most stunning building in Manteca was built by the Bank of Stockton.
The 11,750-square-foot glass and concrete structure built in 1997 at 660 North Main Street that makes extensive use of redwood reflects what CEO Douglas M. Eberhardt calls “Bank of Stockton’s commitment to the communities we serve.”
That commitment is something that Amy Kieffer who serves as the community branch manager sees when she passes the countless farms, businesses, and homes of customers that Bank of Stockton has partnered with as a full-serve bank to help build the community.
“It’s what I like about working for Bank of Stockton,” said Kieffer who has 40 years in the banking industry and has been a Manteca resident since 1984. “They know the community they serve. Loan decisions are made locally in Stockton and not in (another state).”
That deep sense of community commitment is what Eberhardt said has allowed Bank of Stockton to grow and thrive for the past 150 years.
“Our job is to serve our customers and the community,” Eberhardt noted. “That is what Bank of Stockton represents.”
Bank of Stockton — originally known as the Stockton Savings & Loan Society — was launched 150 years ago on Aug. 12, 1867 by 29 men that wanted to make sure Stockton’s 4,429 residents at the time had a strong financial institution to serve the growing community. That original $100,000 in U.S. gold coin investment has now parlayed into a 19-branch bank with assets just shy of $3 billion.
The family owned bank is California’s oldest bank still operating under its original charter. All of the branches will mark the 150th anniversary this Friday at 10 a.m. when they cut birthday cakes to share with their customers. The bank is providing other refreshments as well as a commemorative gift — a keepsake booklet featuring historical photos gleaned from the bank’s expansive archives of 33,000 photos of Stockton and the greater region they have built under the careful care of a full-time archivist.
But if you think standing the test of time through cycles of recession and growth means Bank of Stockton is old school when it comes to technology, guess again.
Director of Marketing Angela Brusa points out that while Bank of Stockton may not be on the cusp of new technologies to make banking more convenient and secure for customers, they stay close to the cutting edge.
An example is the rollout of the ATM CardValet service in 2014 that allows you to turn your ATM card on and off using an app as another layer to protect against fraud.
“Bank of Stockton offered that service even before Chase Bank did,” Brusa noted.
As for customer service, Eberhardt is proud that Bank of Stockton is old school almost to a fault.
Noting that the bank is successful because of its “fiercely loyal customers,” Eberhardt constantly emphasizes how much the bank appreciates its customers.
It’s not just words.
The bank has resisted trends such as doing away with drive-up windows and even forcing people to use tellers face-to-face. They offer online banking without the pitfall of an Internet-only bank that includes the inability to get your money for days at a time when you want to access it.
“Like other banks, we don’t see as many customers in the lobby due to ATMs and other ways to bank, but when we do start seeing lines form, everyone including myself will pitch in to help customers,” Kieffer said.
That contrasts with non-community banks that have tailored business models around minimal face-to-face contact with customers.
Kieffer noted you can start loan applications online with Bank of Stockton, but you will still be able to sit down face-to-face with a bank representative so all of your concerns are addressed. And given loan approval is in Stockton and not Charlotte in North Carolina, the turnaround is significantly quicker.
Bank of Stockton’s commitment to people and community is why among its 400 workers you will find a liberal number of employees who have been with the bank for 15, 20 and even 30 years or more.
Among those is Manteca branch customer service manager Lisa George who is now in her 37th year with Bank of Stockton.
Bank of Stockton has a rich history of being a part of the communities it serves. It runs the gamut from supporting a repertoire of non-profits such as the Manteca-Lathrop Boys & Girls Club that Kieffer is immediate past board president to underwriting major education and economic initiatives  designed to strengthen  the comminutes they serve.
The University of Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business with its business forecasting center is one example.
It includes a $1 million donation by Eberhardt in 2007 to establish an investment fund managed by UOP students that routinely outperforms Wall Street. The fund hit $3 million a few years ago.
Students learn how to carefully analyze potential investments using the same financial techniques as professional investors. Students also learn the finer points of portfolio management by taking responsibilities for individual S&P 500 sectors, such as health care, energy and commodities, and analyzing their fit within the greater portfolio. They also use some of the very tools used by investment firms. The Pacific Board of Regents paid for a Bloomberg terminal for the trading room and, in 2012, the Bank of Stockton donated the money to boost the number of the Bloomberg terminals to 12.
But in true Bank of Stockton fashion, it wasn’t enough that students learn to be good stewards of money and asset management. Eberhardt insisted that a philanthropy component be built into the program, so students would learn the significance and satisfaction of giving back. 
The fund’s profits are allocated to specific programs: the UOP School of Business, the Speech Language Pathology & Audiology Department and the Pacific Tigers water polo team. 
The decision in 1990 to obtain the photo collection of the late Stockton photographer Leonard Covello also underscores the bank’s commitment to the community. It was a desire to make sure the history of the communities they serve would be preserved for future generations.
The Manteca branch also has a business center that handles larger loans and is headed up by Jim Nemmers. That bucks the trend of national banks that centralize such services while shrinking their physical footprint.
The acquisition of Mid-Cal National Bank in the 1980s brought Bank of Stockton to Manteca.
Eberhardt is the bank’s ninth prescient in 150 years that includes 66 years of being led by an Eberhardt family member. While the family is the largest owner there are also other shareholders.
Eberhardt, though, wants to make it clear as Bank of Stockton turns 150 that it has happened “because of our customers.
“And with their support we hope to be around for another 150 years,” he added.

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