By John Wolcott HBJ Freelance Writer
LYNNWOOD — Sterling Bank’s Lynnwood branch is the first Snohomish County office to show off the Spokane bank’s fresh new logo, accompanied by a new name, without the former “savings.”
It’s the newest change that shows the bank is serious about rebranding its old image as a savings-and-loan institution and carving a prominent niche among commercial lenders in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, along with its customer banking centers.
Soon the signage will be changed at the bank’s Stanwood branch, Sterling’s other Snohomish County office.
Although Sterling has had branches throughout Western Washington for years along the I-5 corridor, its move into commercial banking broadens its presence throughout its service areas.
All of its retail centers are supported by commercial bankers who work with teams located in Tacoma, Federal Way, Seattle, Bellevue, Everett and Bellingham, said senior vice president and commercial banking regional director Paul Dini, who works in Mountlake Terrace.
Over the past two years, as part of its move into commercial lending, Sterling Bank established north Puget Sound commercial lending offices in Bellingham and Everett.
Vice president Mike Tsoukalas, based in the Everett office at 2917 Pacific Ave., is Sterling’s commercial banking team leader. He oversees commercial lending activity in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. Counting Tsoukalas, there are five Sterling commercial bankers serving the three-county area.
Tsoukalas said Sterling Bank is committed to its expansion into commercial lending, offering the broad resources of a five-state regional bank blended with the popular “high-touch” personalized customer service often found only at smaller, local community banks.
“Despite the slow recovery of the economy, loan demand already is increasing at Sterling in these northern three counties,” he said. “We’re lending regularly to creditworthy borrowers.”
Sterling Bank made an apt choice in hiring Tsoukalas, who brings a decade of local banking experience to his new position. He has held leadership positions with Everett Trust Bank, Coastal Community Bank and Mountain Pacific Bank.
Tsoukalas said Sterling Bank is already involved in local communities and supports several Snohomish County organizations, including United Way, Little League baseball, Housing Hope, Junior Achievement, Boys &Girls Club and Immaculate Conception School.
The bank offers home loans through offices in all three northern counties.
“A lot of smaller banks in the area have had a hard time in this tough economy,” Tsoukalas said, “but to a large extent, regional banks such as Sterling have done well. Our size is a real benefit.”
Sterling Bank itself successfully completed a recapitalization effort.
Dini said the name change reflects the evolution of the bank, which expanded from a savings-and-loan institution into commercial offerings.
“We’re certainly building an advertising presence in the local communities,” he said. “One example is our series of Mariners baseball television ads.”
In April, Sterling Financial Corp., holding company for Sterling Bank, announced a record income of $13.3 million in the first quarter of 2012, as well as the completion of its acquisition of First Independent Bank, with 14 branches in the Vancouver, Wash.-Portland, Ore., metropolitan area. Today, Sterling Bank has total deposits of $6.95 billion, loans of $6 billion and total assets of $9.5 billion.
“Sterling has always had a marketing presence in the area, but many people are surprised to learn how good the brand is,” Tsoukalas said.
To find out about Sterling Bank, go to www.bankwithsterling.com or call Mike Tsoukalas at 425-212-1882.