Portland-based Umpqua Holdings Corp. now is operating Spokane-founded Sterling Bank under the Umpqua
Bank name following a shareholder-approved acquisition that cleared its last regulatory hurdle Friday, April 18.
Umpqua has started changing out Sterling’s signs, a process that will take about six weeks, says Eve Callahan, Umpqua’s Portland-based senior vice president of communications. The bank also will roll out its retail store concept here in coming weeks, Callahan says.
As of Monday, April 21, Sterling and Umpqua customers can use ATMs at both banks without any fees, Callahan says. Sterling customers will receive new Umpqua debit cards in coming weeks and can continue using Sterling cards in the meantime, she says.
Ray Davis, Umpqua’s CEO, says all of Sterling’s 12 Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-area branches will remain open under the Umpqua name.
Davis says Umpqua is evaluating where jobs will be eliminated throughout the combined bank systems to minimize duplication of services and processes in the two bank systems. He says employees in positions that will be eliminated through consolidation will have priority consideration to transfer to 200 job openings that have remained unfilled during the acquisition.
Callahan adds, “We don’t have a specific number (of job eliminations). There’s still a great deal of work involved in bringing the organizations together. We don’t expect full integration until the first quarter of 2015.”
Umpqua will open four career centers, including one in the Spokane area, that will available to help employees in the case of potential layoffs. The center’s services will include resume coaching, job-fair support, classes on finding job opportunities, and interviewing techniques.
“Really, very few will be affected, but we want to make help available for any associates affected and their families,” Callahan says.
Meantime, she says, some integration training has been under way since Umpqua announced the Sterling acquisition in September.
“We’re both community banks, and we’re both passionate about what we do and how we do it,” Callahan says. “Sterling has a great team. We’re pleased with how ours and theirs have worked together in the last six months.”
Umpqua will maintain a corporate presence at the longtime Sterling headquarters at 111 N. Wall, some back-office operations in the Crescent building at 707 W. Main, and a processing center at Spokane International Airport.
Umpqua has tweaked titles and duties of some executives of the former Sterling Bank, she says.
Greg Seibly, who was Sterling’s CEO, now is co-president of Umpqua along with Cort O’Haver, who had been Umpqua’s vice president of commercial banking.
Seibly will be based in Portland, Callahan says.
Ezra Eckhardt, former president and COO of Sterling, will remain based in Spokane, where he’s heading up Umpqua’s shared-services division and is in charge of integration of the two banks.
Seibly and Eckhardt led Sterling Bank through its FDIC-ordered recapitalization from which it the bank emerged in 2011.
Marty Dickinson will be Umpqua’s director of marketing and cultural enhancement in Spokane. Dickinson had been Sterling’s executive vice president of marketing and communications since 2011. Prior to that, she was president of Downtown Spokane Partnership.
Cara Coon is communications and public affairs director under Dickinson, Callahan says. Coon had been communications manager at Sterling.
The former Sterling operations include 175 bank branches in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California, with 2,650 total employees, including about 625 people downtown and at the processing center. Sterling reported $10.3 billion in assets at year-end 2013.
Prior to the acquisition, Umpqua had more than 200 locations in Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada.
Including the Sterling acquisition, Umpqua, now is Oregon’s largest bank and has nearly 5,000 employees and combined assets of $22 billion.
With the Sterling acquisition complete, Umpqua last week joined the S&P MidCap 400, an index of 400 midcapitalization companies. Umpqua had formerly been on the S&P SmallCap 600 index.
Despite its size, Davis insists that Umpqua has always been and will remain a community bank.
“People on Wall Street tell me that can’t be done with a bank of this size,” Davis says. “They say that because it’s never been done before.”
That just means Umpqua will be the first, he contends.
“If we can do it at $12 billion (total assets), there’s no reason we can’t do it at $22 billion or $100 billion,” Davis says.
Besides the new name, perhaps the most visible change Umpqua customers here will see is the retail store concept the bank is bringing here, he says.
Davis spearheaded the store concept in 1994 to differentiate Umpqua from larger banks. At that time, Umpqua was a small southern Oregon-based bank with five branches and less than $200 million in assets.
Under the store concept, which is modeled after top customer-rated retailers, Umpqua branches often serve the bank’s own blend of coffee and provide computer cafes with free Wi-Fi service.
“We took out the velvet ropes and desks,” Davis says.
The store concept helps sustain the relevancy of physical bank branches in an industry in which a growing number of people are doing electronic banking, he says.
Umpqua stores are continuing to evolve, he says. “They don’t all look the same, because technology is changing too fast.”
Umpqua stores also offer a local spotlight program that features a business or organization in the community at no charge.
Umpqua stores even sell selected items and services on behalf of the spotlighted businesses.
Callahan says most Umpqua stores have their local spotlight programs, which rotate quarterly, booked through 2015.
“We haven’t introduced it in Spokane yet,” Callahan says. “We will want to get that worked out in the next few weeks.”
Earlier this year, Umpqua opened its cultural orientation classes to Sterling employees “to help customer-facing agents be ready for Day One,” Callahan says.
The courses emphasize Umpqua’s strategy of combining innovative banking, enhanced customer service, and community commitment, she says.
“Cultural training is essential,” Callahan says. “Our wonderful store designs come down to what happens in the store.”
That culture drives Davis’ vision to build a bank with the expertise of a large institution and customer experience of a community bank, she says.
Davis says Umpqua’s community commitment includes its Connect Volunteer Network, in which employees are asked—but not required—to contribute 40 hours a year to nonprofits, especially those with a focus on youth and education.
Employees are asked to schedule the volunteer time during work hours, “and we pay them,” Davis says, adding that the bank had 93 percent participation from employees in the program last year.
Subscribe today to our free E-Newsletters!SUBSCRIBE