Nevada State Bank (NSB), the largest state-chartered bank in Nevada, has grown along with the state for nearly 55 years, succeeding despite the economic challenges that managed to defeat many other financial institutions. Today, it operates 50 branches in 20 communities across the state, and has over $4 billion in assets.
In the late 1950s, a group of 12 businessmen led by Charles L. Horsey raised $750,000 to start a new bank in Las Vegas, which was then a small desert town with a population of around 60,000. Nevada State Bank opened for business on December 9, 1959 with Horsey as its founding president. After receiving its official state charter, the bank celebrated with a grand opening and ribbon cutting on January 8, 1960 at its headquarters at Fourth and Carson streets in Las Vegas.
In 1962, Harley E. Harmon and three partners purchased the majority of the bank’s stock. Since there was only one other locally owned bank, the men believed the time was right to grow the bank along with the community. Under the Harmon team, NSB grew from $7 million in assets in the early 1960s to more than $105 million by the time Harmon stepped down in 1976. At that time, the bank had 225 employees working at its four branches and downtown headquarters, and was poised for even more growth.
The nation and its banks started the 1980s in a difficult position, with a national recession leading to high unemployment, runaway inflation and historically high interest rates. Nevertheless, as it approached its 25th anniversary Nevada State Bank added more branches and adopted new technologies. In 1984, the bank installed eight automated teller machines and joined statewide networks that allowed customers to conveniently withdraw money outside of “bankers’ hours.”
That same year, the bank’s success caught the attention of Zions Bancorporation, which moved to purchase Nevada State Bank. The sale was completed a year later, after the Nevada Legislature passed laws easing interstate banking. This acquisition presented NSB with the best of both worlds. Instead of being absorbed by Zions, it operated as a subsidiary, keeping its name and employees and making its own local decisions, while gaining the financial backing of one of the West’s strongest banks.
In 1989, the bank implemented another strategic move and became the state’s first bank to open a branch in a supermarket. Over the next 10 years, it opened more than 20 in-store branches all across the state.
For over three decades, Nevada State Bank served only the Las Vegas area. Then, in the 1990s, the bank went statewide, opening supermarket branches in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Elko, Gardnerville and Pahrump. The bank continued its expansion in 1997 by taking over five Wells Fargo branches in Eureka, Fernley, Tonopah, Lovelock and Wells. That same year, it acquired Sun State Bank, adding three branches in Southern Nevada.
The bank’s biggest development of the 1990s came near the end of the decade. In 1999, NSB merged with Pioneer Citizens Bank, which had been founded in Reno in 1965. This move increased its presence in the Reno-Sparks-Carson City corridor, where Pioneer had six branches. The merger also expanded the bank’s Southern Nevada footprint. Pioneer’s president, Bill Martin, took over the combined bank and served as its president until 2007.
The 1990s were a period of growth for Nevada State Bank. Fueled by a casino industry expansion that led to a real estate boom in Las Vegas, from 1995 to 2000 the bank’s assets rose from $400 million to $2 billion.
NSB continued to adopt new technologies in the first decade of the new millennium. In 2002, the bank launched internet bill pay and began digitally imaging checks in 2004. The following year, Nevada State Bank introduced remote deposits, an electronic system allowing clients to make deposits from remote locations by transmitting images of scanned checks.
Nevada State Bank was also selected by the State Treasurer’s Office to be the official bank for the Nevada Quarter launch, which was the first opportunity for the public to acquire the commemorative coins featuring images of wild mustangs. More than 3,000 Nevadans turned out for the launch on January 31, 2006 at the Capitol in Carson City.
Dallas Haun took over the reins of Nevada State Bank when he was named President and CEO in September of 2007. When the financial crisis hit in the fall of 2008, it was a difficult time to head up a bank. Nevada State Bank was affected by the Wall Street meltdown, but it was more resilient than many of its peers and assisted the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) several times to help resolve difficult banking situations in Nevada. In 2008, Nevada State Bank acquired the insured deposits of Silver State Bank, and in 2009 it acquired Great Basin Bank, adding new branches in Elko, Spring Creek, Winnemucca and Fallon. Nevada State Bank also worked with the FDIC in the closure of Community Bank of Nevada.
Facing the Future
The world of banking has continued to change and evolve. As times and banking trends changed, Nevada State Bank sold its grocery store branches to focus on freestanding branches. Convenience-driven clients started banking online, where they could conduct their banking 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ATMs are rapidly being replaced with online banking and apps for mobile devices. Nevada State Bank has worked to develop banking products and services to keep pace with technological advances.
On December 9th of this year, NSB will celebrate its 55th anniversary. The bank’s long history of leadership and community involvement indicates a bright future of serving the financial needs of Nevadans.