Greg Thompson likes the fact he can take his children for a drive around the community and show them what he does for a living.
Thompson helps create jobs, make businesses thrive, assists in turning home ownership into reality, and works with farmers to keep the world fed.
Thompson is F&M Bank’s senior vice president and Manteca Market Manager. The 101-year-old Lodi-based bank acquired Delta National Bank and its branches earlier this year. They’re celebrating joining the greater Manteca community this Thursday, Sept. 28, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at their 611 N. Main St. The event includes a ribbon cutting in partnership with the Manteca Chamber of Commerce as well as a catered customer appreciation reception.
F&M Bank — with its $3 billion in assets planted firmly in the region — is now the largest San Joaquin County based bank in terms of assets. The bank uses its understanding of the local economy to help the communities it serves grow.
“Loan decisions are made in Lodi and not out of state,” Thompson said.
That means when an F&M representative is working with a client on a loan they are just one person removed from the decision makers that have a working knowledge of the businesses that drive the local economy such as cherries, walnuts, grapes, and almonds in the farm sector.
Familiarity and comfort with how agricultural works has made F&M Bank the nation’s 19th largest banking institution in terms of agricultural loans.
F&M Bank’s knowledge, assets, customer service, and ability to be nimble in the lending process is what prompted Scott Blevins of Mountain Valley Express — the less than load trucking firm that started in Manteca with a rented U-Haul truck and now operates from nine terminal in California, Nevada and Arizona — to switch to the bank to help his firm continue to grow and prosper.
It is part of F&M’s commitment to stay focused on local needs.
Since 2010, the bank has supported over 250 non-profits in the communities they serve with $22 million in investments and donations. That also includes 10,000 volunteer hours from bank employees. In addition F&M Bank has made over $72 million in community development loans in the past seven years. That is on top of originating more than $527 million in small business, small farm, and home mortgage loans.
Their local commitment extends to their employees.
Every Delta National Bank employee was retained after F&M Bank completed its acquisition.
“Toinette Rossi (who oversaw Delta National Bank) insisted on it as did the management of F&M Bank,” Thompson said.
Thompson noted every employee — including those involved in headquarters backroom operations — was retained.
“Our customers appreciate being able to come in to the bank and see that people like Phyllis Abram is still here to serve them,” Thompson said.
Being community orientated doesn’t mean F&M Bank sacrifices any of the cutting edge technology and services that bigger banks offer. It offers modern banking conveniences that F&M Bank manages to make more effective for customers due to being community orientated.
“Since we are headquartered in Lodi, we’re more flexible and quicker to respond to customers’ needs,” Thompson said.
The advantage of not having loan decisions made out of state or out of the region can’t be overstressed.
During the depth of the housing crisis, as an example, national banks lumped all of their loan decisions regarding homes and foreclosures as if Stockton, Lodi, Ripon, Manteca, and Modesto were all interchangeable and the same. For example, some national banks assigned foreclosures they had in the region to a staff in the Midwest for a period that simply used Stockton data — one of the city’s that was hardest hit by the housing crisis — to make decisions regarding loans and properties in Manteca, Ripon, and Lodi.
Not only did F&M Bank weather the housing crisis in a strong position due to its conservative loan approach and working understanding of the local markets, but they played a key role in helping lift the region’s economy back up.
Thompson said being an effective community banker will allow him to provide an answer that he can be proud to give when his children ask him what he does for a living.
He pointed to a 230-home neighborhood he helped finance in Lodi before being selected as the Manteca market manager for F&M Bank.
“I can take my children 20 years from now through the neighborhood and be proud of the fact that I had a big role in making it happen,” Thompson said.
F&M Bank — short for Farmers & Merchants Bank of Central California — was organized in May of 2016 by a group of farmers and businessmen who felt the need for a bank with “more liberal, democratic and unbiased policies towards farmers and townspeople.”
That has served F&M Bank well over the years allowing it to grow organically — Delta National Bank was only their second acquisition in 101 years.
The Manteca branch lobby and drive thru window is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is also a drive up ATM.
The 26 branches are located in Elk Grove, Galt, Hilmar, Linden, Lodi, Manteca, Merced, Modesto, Riverbank, Sacramento, Stockton, Concord, Turlock, and Walnut Creek
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