John Gaynor, president and CEO of Bank of Nevada, says one of his bank’s most valuable assets is having a name familiar to many long-time Nevada residents. Although the community bank just opened this fall, the original Bank of Nevada was a known and successful entity for over 30 years until it merged into First National Bank of Nevada in the 1970s. “The name is a viable commodity, and gives us an advantage for marketability,” said Gaynor.
Funding for the new bank was provided by a group of 50 to 60 shareholders, mainly Southern Nevada business people. Chairman of the board is Dennis Decius, a former executive vice president/CFO of Pacific Capital Bancorp of Salinas, Calif. Richard Helgren, the executive vice president and COO, has over 30 years’ experience in the banking industry. “In light of all the new banks being chartered in the Las Vegas Valley,” said Gaynor, “the speed with which we raised $8.4 million to start the bank is an indication of the strength of the name and also of people’s confidence in our directors and officers.”
Gaynor, who serves as vice-chairman of the board, has lived in Nevada since 1959. He attended high school in Elko, graduated from the University of Nevada Reno and has lived in Las Vegas since 1983. With over 30 years of banking experience, Gaynor was instrumental in organizing Commercial Bank of Nevada in 1994, and served as its president and CEO. Commercial Bank grew from zero to $134 million by 1998, when it was acquired by Colonial BancGroup. Gaynor then became president and CEO of its successor, Colonial Bank, until resigning in 1999 to begin work on setting up Bank of Nevada.
Gaynor was recently elected president of the Nevada Bankers Association for the 2000-2001 term. “My colleagues voted me in before I even had a bank,” Gaynor noted. One of the new president’s first actions was to pilot a small plane around the state and visit banking colleagues in rural communities.
Bank of Nevada is a full-service commercial bank offering on-line banking and a courier service to pick up deposits at businesses. “We serve the business community,” said Gaynor, “and as an ancillary, we also service the personal accounts of business owners and employees. Our niche is small to medium-sized businesses, with emphasis on real estate.”
One of the first challenges Gaynor faced in setting up the bank was attracting qualified personnel. “When you’re small, everyone wears lots of hats,” said Gaynor. “We have been hiring generalists with plenty of banking experience who can get along well with the rest of the professional team. We have hired personalities, not resumés – people who really care about giving our customers the service they deserve.”
The ingredients for success are the same at Bank of Nevada as they were at Commercial Bank, according to Gaynor. “People like to bank with people they know. We give responsive, personal attention to customer’s inquiries and requests. You will never find a machine answering the phone here. Big banks may tout it in their advertising, but it’s tough to give personalized service to each of your accounts when you have so many. When was the last time you were able to sit down in your bank president’s office over a cup of coffee and discuss your business needs? At a community bank, that’s our forte.”
Bank of Nevada is currently housed in a temporary structure on West Flamingo Road near Cimarron. Groundbreaking is scheduled after the first of the year for a two-story, 11,000-square-foot building on the adjoining lot. RAFI performed the architectural services for the bank building, and Juliet Company is the general contractor. Gaynor anticipates moving Bank of Nevada to its new quarters in the fall of 2001. The bank plans to occupy 6,000 square feet on the ground floor and lease the rest of the building to tenants until it needs to expand its facilities.
“Profitability will dictate our growth and expansion,” stated Gaynor. “We know that bigger isn’t always best. In general, our goal is to have assets of $250 million to $300 million and annual income of $2 million to $4 million after the first three to five years. If we accomplish that, I’ll be real happy. Our goal is to be the best-performing community bank in the Valley.”