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Mechanics Bank of Walnut Creek acquires Scott Valley Bank

Bay Area bank absorbs Scott Valley Bank

The largest bank headquartered in the East Bay Area of Northern California now has a branch in Medford.

Mechanics Bank, headquartered in Walnut Creek, has completed its acquisition of Learner Financial and its subsidiary Scott Valley Bank.

Scott Valley Bank was in Yreka, California, when it opened a Medford office in June of 2011. The most recent FDIC market share report dated June 30, 2017, showed Scott Valley had $41 million in deposits and was No. 11 of the 11 banks operating in Jackson County, with a 1.26 percent share. However, that was nearly four times the 2016 figure.

Rauly Butler, executive vice president who has led Mechanics Bank’s retail division for the past 18 years, suggested the new owner expects to improve its position.

“Banking does best on synergy of energy,” Butler said. “We’re doing well. We want to have branches where people live, work and recreate. We’re looking for density. In today’s modern age of electronics, the No. 1 reasons people choose a bank is branch location. It’s diminished, but still No. 1. The No. 1 draw for commercial relationships is referrals; technology is down the list.”

Mechanics positions itself as a community bank, lending to privately held commercial enterprises.

“We gather deposits in a community and put them back into that community in the form of loans. We don’t use the deposits to lend outside our market areas.” Butler said.

Mechanics Bank was established in 1905 and has more than $5.6 billion in assets. Scott Valley operated nine California and two Oregon locations with nearly $700 million in assets. The branches will begin operating under the Mechanics Bank name later this summer after the two organizations are fully integrated.

“We are proud to merge the talented teams at Scott Valley Bank and Mechanics Bank to create an even stronger regional community bank,” said John DeCero, president and CEO of Mechanics Bank. “As we said at the outset, this union is a natural one based on our similar history, culture and values. We look forward to carrying on the tradition of providing high-touch, exceptional customer service while adding the capacity to deliver a broader set of sophisticated financial solutions in these new markets, while continuing to have a positive impact in our new communities.”

Ford Financial Fund, led by Gerald J. Ford of Dallas (no relation to the late U.S. president) has owned controlling interest in Mechanics Bank since 2015. The Texas billionaire paid $265 million for 51 percent position.

Hatti Hamlin, a spokesperson for Mechanics Bank, said Scott Valley Bank’s markets were attractive because of a relatively small overlap with its existing branches.

Amy Bennett is the branch manager for the eight-person Medford office on Poplar Drive.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

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