Banking & Finance  October 8, 2010

Home State Bank stays the course for 60 years

LOVELAND – When Colorado became the 50th state in the union to allow interstate banking in 1995, Home State Bank had already been serving Larimer County residents for 45 years. For 25 years, it had been under the ownership of founder Jack Devereaux, who came to Loveland after selling his bank in Wyoming.

Today, Home State is still in the Devereaux family, with Jack’s sons Harry and Jack Jr. continuing their father’s vision of a locally owned, independent bank serving the needs of small businesses and individuals.

“We’ve never strayed from our core values,” Harry Devereaux explained. “We’re here to give people a chance and allow them to pursue their dreams.”

The list of entrepreneurs who got a chance to pursue their dreams with a loan from Home State reads like a Who’s Who of Northern Colorado business, from Heath Construction to FRII, The Silver Grill in Fort Collins to Mike’s Barbershop in Loveland.

Max and Mary Beth Rodgers began banking with Home State in 1954, when they purchased Brown’s Shoe Fit on Fourth Street in downtown Loveland. After that initial loan, they received several others over the years to expand the business.

“This bank has definitely grown with the town, and Brown’s Shoe Fit grew with Home State Bank,´ said Max Rodgers, who retired in 1989. “We’ve always stayed with Home State, even when approached by other banks.”

That sort of loyalty even extends into the next generations. Steve Rodgers, Max and Mary Beth’s son, now manages the next incarnation of Brown’s Shoe Fit, Sas Shoes at The Outlet Mall, and got his first loan in 1968 from Home State to buy his first car at age 16. His daughter just got her first car loan from Home State, and Steve also went to Loveland High School with Harry Devereaux. So it’s not surprising he likes the hometown feel of banking with Home State.

But more important is that Home State remains an independent, community bank.

Resisting acquisition

In the years before interstate banking was fully implemented, Colorado was engulfed in a wave of bank acquisitions by entities such as Norwest, based in Minneapolis. And during the 1980s and ’90s, Home State had its share of suitors, all of which were turned down.

“We told them we were not for sale,” Harry Devereaux said. “We’re not interested. Our focus is on the success of our customers on Main Street, Northern Colorado.”

He had seen firsthand the effects of out-of-state ownership. After getting his degree from the University of Colorado in 1974, he went to work for the oldest bank in Colorado, First National of Denver, “the bank that built the West.”

“I would have been happy to stay on 17th Street for the rest of my career,” he recalled. “But when all the old banks – United Bank, Central Bank, First National – got bought out, they lost their connection to Colorado history, their tradition of building a community. It wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore.”

While Harry returned to Loveland, Jack Jr. continued his career in Denver, eventually becoming regional manager with what became Bank of the West, responsible for 130 banks. But he too came back to Home State in June, a year after Jack Sr. passed away.

The bank has now grown to become the largest locally owned bank in Larimer County, with over $545 million in assets and more than 200 employees, and nine branches and 13 ATMs throughout Loveland, Fort Collins, Berthoud and Windsor. A far cry from the seven employees and seven directors who opened the doors with less than a half million dollars in assets in 1950.

Home State brought several innovations to the Northern Colorado banking scene even before Jack Devereaux hit town – drive-up banking, for example, and assigning each account its own number, which paved the way for the eventual move away from posting transactions by hand.

Competition welcome

In 1974, with branch banking still 20 years in the future, Jack Devereaux decided that more competition would be good for the Loveland banking community. So he applied for and received a charter for American Bank, which operated as a sister bank to Home State until 2002 when they merged.

ATMs were introduced in 1979, and the expansion of Home State to Fort Collins in 1998 slightly preceded the launch of online banking in 1999 – one innovation that was not a casualty of the soon-to-come dot-com bust.

The more recent economic bust has taken down a number of banks – 129 have failed nationally in 2010 through Oct. 1, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. – and left even more operating under regulatory agreements. As a result, many small businesses are struggling to find financing.

“Money is there to lend,” Harry Devereaux said, adding that Home State was honored earlier this year as one of the state’s top five SBA lenders by the nonprofit Colorado Lending Source – the only community bank on the list. “But the economy is in such a shambles, and people are so uncertain about health care and taxes, they just don’t know what to do. I think lots of people are just waiting until (after the elections in) November to see how it’s all going to shake out.”

With his brother now at Home State, Harry said he will be devoting more of his time to issues facing the banking industry by working with the Colorado Bankers Association and other organizations.

As for the future of Home State, he said just as they have for the past 60 years, the bank will stay the course and execute its three-, five-, seven- and 10- year plans developed before the Great Recession began, adjusted to meet the new reality.

“We remain disciplined with what footprint fits with what we do,” he added. “We enjoy being part of the stability of our community, of being an example of ‘Built to Last.'”

And it has, for 60 years so far.

LOVELAND – When Colorado became the 50th state in the union to allow interstate banking in 1995, Home State Bank had already been serving Larimer County residents for 45 years. For 25 years, it had been under the ownership of founder Jack Devereaux, who came to Loveland after selling his bank in Wyoming.

Today, Home State is still in the Devereaux family, with Jack’s sons Harry and Jack Jr. continuing their father’s vision of a locally owned, independent bank serving the needs of small businesses and individuals.

“We’ve never strayed from our core values,” Harry Devereaux explained. “We’re here to give people…

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