HAPO Community Credit Union has extended its “member-centric” focus to include businesses.
The Richland-based credit union recently launched a commercial division that stands ready to helps businesses, large and small.
“We are member-centric and focus on what our members’ needs are. Sometimes their needs get lost in bigger banks,” said Monte Drake, vice president of commercial lending. He said HAPO wants to take the time to answer questions, address concerns and understand customers.
The new division will assist current members with their existing small businesses or those wanting to start up one. It also welcomes new members and can move in existing business accounts from other places.
Drake, who has been in the banking and finance industry for 33 years, joined HAPO in October 2015 to develop, launch and grow the credit union’s new commercial/business lending program. He previously worked at AmericanWest Bank for four years and at First Interstate Bank in Montana for 14 years.
The new HAPO division launched on the deposit side in December and the loan side in February.
The credit union will offer traditional business lending services for commercial real estate, both owner and non-owner occupied; construction; equipment lines of credit; and working capital lines.
The new program also offers a business debit card and in late fourth quarter will upgrade business accounts so they can be tied to members’ personal accounts, as well as offer a “more robust online banking platform,” Drake said.
“We’re also offering remote deposit capture and merchant services. As we grow, we’ll add treasury management service to tie into more products and services into online banking,” he said. “It will only continue to get better and better.”
Richland-based Gesa Credit Union also has joined the state’s growing commercial lending market. It recently opened a home-loan center and commercial lending office in Spokane, according to the Journal of Business in Spokane.
Spokane-based Numerica, which has three branches in the Tri-Cities and plans to build more here, also offers business loans and accounts.
At HAPO, there’s a need for the commercial division, said Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the 140,000-member credit union.
“We want to make sure we are always bringing value to our members and it had become very evident over the last several years that more and more of our members needed HAPO to provide business services for them. Monte has assembled a top-notch team that our members will be very impressed with,” Anderson said.
HAPO’s multi-million dollar commercial lending portfolio is expected to see continued growth as demand increases, Drake said.
HAPO’s commercial loan goal is to service those under $3 million, but is “capable of going into larger loans where we see needs,” Drake said.
“The higher need is where we see $250,000 to $1.5 million loans to meet the needs of our membership. That’s where general business needs line up in a community. There are a lot of little shops needing to expand their business and remodel and buy additional equipment,” he said.
Drake said he’s been “surprised at how strong our business community is.”
“The anchor services are here with the Hanford site and the educational stronghold is here to have highly trained people to work. This births the need for additional business services. It’s really exciting to see,” he said.
Drake said the community’s healthy housing market provides an alternative to bigger metro areas. “I see great things ahead for the Tri-Cities area, especially when you’re launching a business program,” he said.
HAPO has 340 employees and 17 branches. Five make up the new commercial division.
The credit union staff has gone through extensive training with the financial services group “and they are standing by and they’re ready to help,” Drake said. “There will be someone trained in every branch,” he said.
For more information, call 509-222-3685, visit hapo.org, or stop in any branch.
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