Longtime Loveland banker puts friendly face on banking scene
LOVELAND — Jack Devereaux can chuckle at life in a way only a man who has seen 80 years can.
“You just do the best you can and hope you can keep doing better,” says the Home State Bank president matter-of-factly. “Success is just doing that day after day.”
Devereaux has been doing his best as president of Home State Bank since 1970.
“The bank wasn’t in the best of shape,” he says with his signature chuckle. “My biggest challenge was improving the earnings — just getting things back where they should be.”
In the 30-plus years since, Devereaux has gotten things back to where they should be — and beyond.
Deep community roots
Since its founding in 1950, the Home State Bank has been locally owned and operated. Devereaux has “managed to maintain remarkable levels of independence in a market that has become consumed by megabanks and mergers,” wrote his nominator for the Bravo award he received from The Northern Colorado Business Report. He oversaw the opening of two additional branches of Home State Bank in Loveland and then founded American Bank there in 1974 in order to keep a good share of the market. (At the time it was built, American Bank’s closest neighbor was a wheat field.)
When Norwest came to Loveland with an offer to buy out Home State (and a threat to compete with it), Devereaux sensed an opportunity to expand and so opened a location in Fort Collins in Old Town. Since then, the bank has opened a branch in south Fort Collins off Timberline Road near Fort Collins High School.
“We were glad to get into a growing community like Fort Collins,” Devereaux said. “But there’s no place like home.”
He gestures to the town of Loveland outside his office on the second floor of The Home State Bank at 935 N. Cleveland Ave. Despite having celebrated his 80th birthday, Devereaux is at this desk every morning at 8 a.m.
He seems baffled by a question about plans to retire.
“It’s not like I’m working that hard,” he said. “I’m surrounded by wonderful people who really take care of things.
“I just feel lucky to be here in their company.”
The feeling is mutual.
“It truly has been a pleasure working for him,´ said Dayton Johnson, whom Devereaux hired 20-some years ago. Johnson is president of American Banks and will be president of the consolidated American and Home State banks after their expected merger in late October. “He believes in hiring people and letting them do the job.”
Fair and customer-oriented
Johnson describes Devereaux as “a very fair man,” saying that, in terms of morals, Devereaux is “the tops.”
“He’s fair with both his employees and the customer — especially the customers,” Johnson said. “His method of operation is that he’s very much for the customer.
“If he’s going to err, he’ll do it in favor of the customer.”
Johnson said that dedication to the customer is played out in Devereaux’s efforts to keep The Home State Bank an independent, locally owned bank.
“He’s very committed to the concept of community banking,” Johnson said. “He thinks it’s the best model for the customer.”
The fierce independence of The Home State Bank has begun to attract bankers who have become disillusioned with corporate banking, according to Devereaux’s nomination form. So change comes with the help of bankers who have experience in both worlds and prefer one that looks more like home.
The bank has seen growth in the past five to 10 years despite national banks in the area that have been, in Devereaux’ words, “multiplying like fleas.” Home State Bank sees the arrival of the large corporate banks to be helpful because it gave them a chance to distinguish the personalized service of an independent bank.
Not for sale
Devereaux smiles when asked if he thinks the term “fiercely independent” describes his bank.
“Let’s put it this way — we’ve been approached by all the large holding companies in Denver and some of the independents,” he said. “They used to ask, but now they don’t anymore because they know better.
“They know I’m not going to sell this bank.”
Devereaux said it is the bank’s commitment to customer service that has kept it competitive among the giants of the banking world.
“I think we have a bit of an edge when it comes to customer service,” he said. “Because an independent bank is part of the community, it possesses a keener sense of the community’s needs.
“Moreover, the money that the bank earns will stay in the community instead of migrating across state lines to a distant home office.”
While he will concede that some of the big nationals may do a good job locally, Devereaux believes that big banks in general are too focused on the bottom line to be properly attentive to the people who bank with them.
“We’re about people here,” Devereaux said. “And as long as that is our focus we will continue to be successful.”