T. Ryan Sullivan may be relatively new to the CEO position with Bank of George, but as the business bank’s former chief financial officer, he successfully guided it through five years of recession.
“We opened the doors in September 2007,” Sullivan said. “We knew there was going to be a recession of some kind when we opened the bank. I don’t think anybody realized how deep it would be.”
It wasn’t until the end of 2008, after a year of actively generating new business and originating new loans, that Bank of George felt the effects of the recession, he said.
This year, Bank of George reported second-quarter net income of $162,000. Not a large sum of revenue, but Sullivan said it was the bank’s sixth consecutive quarter of profitability.
The bank, with locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, employs 20 people and has deposits of $95.5 million and total assets of $106.5 million.
“Our focus in the current time frame is to expand and bring in new business and clients,” Sullivan said. “We are looking to lend. But for FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.)-insured institutions, it is still very difficult out there in Nevada to do construction and development loans.”
Sullivan attributed the difficult environment to increased “regulatory pressure with that product type,” following significant losses industry wide over the past few years. He said the cost of doing that business is still pretty high, “but we are seeing some opportunities.”
Sullivan said the bank is predominately focusing on business loans, revolving lines of credit, equipment loans and owner-occupied real estate loans. He said they’ve done some “nonowner occupied loans when it makes sense because there are some good opportunities.”
Sullivan said the bank will consider funding-stalled commercial real estate projects looking to resume construction.
“It depends on the viability of the project,” he said asking, “Why did it stall in the first place? Who are the players involved ... what’s their track record? Do they have the financial strength to support the project should something occur?”
Sullivan was promoted to CEO in July, following the dismissal of James Brewer after six months as the bank’s chief executive. Brewer replaced Diane Fearon, who had been CEO since the bank’s founding.
Sullivan joined Bank of George for its launch in 2007, as part of the pre-opening organization team. He has also served as a bank director since January 2011.
“I had relocated to the Phoenix area as CFO of Alliance Bank of Arizona,” Sullivan said. “I learned that there was an organization forming a bank in Las Vegas, and (Elko) is my home. I knew the players, so it was a good opportunity to come home.”
Nevada Gaming Commission commissioner Dr. Tony Alamo and Timothy Herbst, vice president of Terrible Herbst Inc., are two of the more well-known members of the nine Bank of George board of directors.
Sullivan said he is cautiously optimistic about the region’s economy.
“We’ve been through the worst of times,” he said. “Part of the problem for the last five years is just the level of uncertainty of when the economy was going to bottom out. I feel pretty comfortable that we’ve seen that bottom.”
Sullivan cautioned that for Las Vegas it will take a “little longer to work through all of the issues because we had a greater degree of run-up before the recession occurred.”
Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.