When father and son duo Frank and Clair Chadwick decided to establish Nevada Bank & Trust in the late 1970s, they were sure the Caliente-based bank would become profitable by the following summer. This was a lofty goal, considering most banks historically take two years before recording their first profitable month. However, Nevada Bank & Trust was able to show a modest $16,000 profit six months later with a business plan built around taking deposits from local Lincoln County residents and making loans to business owners around the small desert town.
Located near an old Union Pacific Railroad line and cattle operations, Caliente is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Ten miles north, farms dot the landscape; in the other direction, one can find Ponderosa pines and rich fishing spots. Bank president James Prince recalls opening day in July 1978. With the help of two high school graduates – neither of whom knew anything about banking – Nevada Bank & Trust became the first bank in the little town. Its main branch is a 3,600-square-foot, single-story building. The bank’s administration building is located next door. Altogether, the bank employs 57 full-time and part-time workers.
Experienced management – Prince worked as a banker in Ely for nearly 20 years before he was recruited by the Chadwicks – more than $500,000 in capital, and a demand for a local bank appear to have been key factors for the bank’s success. “The residents in the area didn’t have a local bank to go to,” said Prince. “Many were crossing the state line into Utah for their loans and banking needs. Our vision was to provide them with the services they needed so they wouldn’t have to go across state lines to get them. Since we’re the only bank in town, we try to be all things to all people.”
Over time, the goal evolved into one that would bring Nevada Bank & Trust to the entire eastern part of the state. Bank officials opened a branch in Alamo in March 1980, a branch in Ely in March 1981, a branch in Wendover in February 1984, a branch in Carlin in January 1985, a branch in Elko in March 1993 and a branch in Pioche in April 1999. The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco recognized Nevada Bank & Trust for opening a branch on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Owyhee in February 2000. The branch, the only financial institution within 100 miles of the reservation, is the first of its kind on a reservation, said Prince.
The bank has 42 shareholders, and its five board members have more than 80 combined years of banking experience. Today, Nevada Bank & Trust has over 6,900 account holders and more than $62 million in annual deposits. Last year, the bank posted a $636,000 profit; this year, Prince anticipates a $900,000 profit.
Last year, Nevada Bank & Trust became the first small rural community bank to offer access to more affordable conventional mortgage products. The new technology partnership between the bank’s Elko branch, PHH Mortgage Services and Fannie Mae enables the bank to offer its customers loan decisions in minutes, cut paperwork in half and provide a wider range of mortgage products. The partnership is part of Fannie Mae’s 10-year, $2 trillion “American Dream Commitment” to increase homeownership among minorities, young families, women-headed families and new immigrants.
While bank officials have not revealed their future plans, Prince is certain of his own goals. The 65-year-old is set to retire in December. “The only way you can loaf and still be respectable is to fish,” said Prince.