Sterling Financial Corp., the Spokane-based parent of Sterling Savings Bank, ended a brief involvement in the property-and-casualty insurance business by selling a small Billings, Mont., agency to an affiliate of a large Utah insurance company.
The buyer, Swanson, Roybal, Leavitt LLC, of Billings, Mont., bought Dime Service Group from Sterling in July for $300,000.
Sterling had acquired Dime Service Group early last year when it bought the assets of Montana-based Empire Federal Bancorp.
We looked at it and evaluated it to see if it fit into our scheme of things, and it became apparent that it was better off being owned by somebody else, says Harold Gilkey, Sterlings chairman and CEO.
Dime Service Group employs seven people at three locations in Montana. Swanson, Roybal & Leavitt is an affiliate of Leavitt Group Enterprises Inc., a Cedar City, Utah-based insurance company.
Leavitt Group controls about 85 insurance groups across the country, says Vance Smith, the chief of the companys east area.
Gilkey says that if Sterling Financial were to get back into the property-casualty insurance business, it would acquire a larger operation and locate it in the Spokane area.
If we were going to get back into the casualty insurance business, we would have to do it in a big way, Gilkey says. Also, we would look to something that was more contiguous to our normal business in a geographic sense. This (Dime Service Group) was probably out of sight and out of mind.
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