North Bay Business Journal

Monday, May 16, 2011, 7:14 am

Spotlight: SBA Lenders


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    Based on active lenders in the North Bay, including the Business Journal’s 2010 list of largest SBA lenders to the region

    Listed alphabetically by loan officer

    To view photo gallery, click here

    Fernando Alvarez

    CDC Small Business Finance Corp.

    95 S. Market St. #300

    San Jose 95113



    Fernando Alvarez is the senior loan officer for CDC Small Business Finance Corp. in the Bay Area. He joined the company in 2008 with 23 years experience in SBA lending. Thirteen of those years were spent on the banking side with U.S. Bank.

    He studied economics and business management in the Philippines and went through a management program at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.

    Randall Behrens

    Heritage Bank of Commerce

    740 Fourth St. #114

    Santa Rosa 95404



    Randall Behrens has been with Heritage Bank of Commerce for four years and doing SBA loans for 11.

    Prior to Heritage, he worked for Wells Fargo and Greater Bay Bank.

    Mr. Behrens grew up in Healdsburg. He studied economics at Sacramento State University and was a stock broker at Morgan Stanley in Sacramento prior to his career in banking.

    Heritage Bank of Commerce, a more than $1.3 billion bank, is a top lender in the Bay Area.

    Mr. Behrens is the local lender for the North Bay.

    Jim Bek

    Superior Financial Group

    165 Lennon Lane #101

    Walnut Creek 94598



    Jim Bek, the executive vice president of Superior Financial Group, has been with the company for five years, since its inception. Prior to that he was with Bank of Oakland/Innovative Bank for five years.

    SFG is one of only 13 companies to be approved as a non-bank United States Small Business Administration Lending Company in the country.

    Joseph Benoit

    Union Bank

    830 College Ave.

    Kentfield 94904



    Joseph Benoit, an executive vice president and small business finance strategist, is the business banking executive for Union Bank N.A.

    Mr. Benoit began his career with Union Bank in 1992. Prior to his current position with the bank, he was market president for the San Diego/Inland Empire/Imperial division in the retail banking group. Mr. Benoit also served as a senior vice president and regional manager for the San Diego and Orange County commercial banking group.

    Mr. Benoit received his bachelor’s degree in business from San Diego State University. He also holds an M.B.A. from National University and is a graduate of the University of Washington Pacific Coast Banking School. Subsequently he has served as an instructor for the banking school since 1998 and also serves on the PCBS Board of Directors.

    Sheila Cargill


    1377 Corporate Center Parkway #A

    Santa Rosa 95407



    Sheila Cargill is the vice president and senior loan officer at Safe-Bidco.

    As a nonprofit, non-depository lender Safe-Bidco provides business loans under a variety of loan programs to small business owners across California.  SBA lending plays a large role in the efforts to provide financing to borrowers who may not find needed funds from traditional lending sources.

    Ms. Cargill’s SBA experience began in 1988 at Sacramento Commercial Bank.  She managed the SBA lending team at the former National Bank of the Redwoods for many years.  Prior to joining Safe-Bidco, Ms. Cargill managed the loan operations department and assisted in SBA lending at Summit State Bank.

    “My role at Safe-Bidco is rewarding.  In these current uncertain and hard economic times, it is gratifying to be able to continue providing financing to move small businesses forward.”

    Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, playing with her dog Leila and watching her seven grandchildren playing in their respective sports activities.

    Kurt Chambliss, Doug Shin, Ole Tustin

    U.S. Bank N.A.

    101 California St. #130

    San Francisco 94111



    U.S. Bank has been a consistent provider of SBA loans to small businesses in the North Bay.

    Ole Tustin, Doug Shin and Kurt Chambliss wrote close to $833,500 in SBA loans in the first two quarters of fiscal year 2011.

    Kelley Cheney and Robert Porter

    Plumas Bank

    470 Nevada St. #108

    Auburn 95603



    Kelley Cheney began his lending career in 2004 while attending California State University Sacramento.

    He has earned a bachelor’s of science in finance, risk management and insurance as well as a master’s in business administration.

    He has been doing SBA loans since 2005’ and he is currently vice president and business development officer in the small business lending division at Plumas Bank. For the past five years Mr. Kelley operated as an SBA business development officer for two banks in the Sacramento area, Umpqua Bank and Plumas.

    Mr. Cheney’s industries of focus include grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience stores, gas stations, professional practices, franchise opportunities, manufactures as well as a variety of retail, wholesale and distribution-based businesses.

    Robert Porter began his career in SBA lending in 1989 after graduating from California State University, Sacramento, with a degree in finance. For the past 21 years, he acted as a vice president and business development officer for three banks, including Sacramento Commercial Bank, Bank of the West and Comerica Bank. During this period he successfully negotiated and funded approximately $240 million in SBA 7(a), 504 and non-SBA commercial real estate loans to small businesses.

    Plumas Bank was recently named 2010 Community/Rural Lender of the Year by the Sacramento District Office of the Small Business Administration.

    Kevin Downey

    First Community Bank

    438 First St. #100

    Santa Rosa 95401



    Kevin Downey is a vice president and commercial loan officer with First Community Bank. He has been with the bank since it opened in 2005. He handles both SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loans.

    He was assistant vice president and sales officer for Westamerica Bank from 2001 to 2005 and an assistant vice president for Bank of America from 1996 to 2001.

    Jason Ehn

    Redwood Credit Union

    3033 Cleveland Ave.

    Santa Rosa 95403



    Jason Ehn, the senior SBA loan officer has been serving Redwood Credit Union’s business members since 2008, when the credit union introduced Small Business Administration lending to its suite of business services.

    Mr. Ehn has 13 years of SBA lending experience. Prior to joining RCU, he managed SBA programs at two other local financial institutions.

    He earned his bachelor’s degree from UCLA with a specialization in business and administration.

    Mr. Ehn currently serves on the Steering Committee for Leadership Santa Rosa as well as the Safe-Bidco Loan Committee.

    “RCU has consistently been a top local SBA lender since we began our program in 2008, and we continue to work hard to provide our community businesses with the funding they need to grow and thrive.”

    Redwood Credit Union was the first credit union in the North Bay to introduce SBA lending.

    “Small businesses are the cornerstones of our local economy, and the more we can support them with their lending needs, the sooner – and stronger – our communities can recover from the recession,” Mr. Ehn said.

    Keith Merklin

    Live Oak Banking Co.

    336 Bon Air Center #224

    Greenbrae 94904



    Keith Merklin, a senior loan officer, joined Live Oak Bank in early 2010, bringing with him more than 14 years of experience as a commercial lending officer. He has spent the majority of his career working with small health care practices.

    Prior to Live Oak Bank, Mr. Merklin worked for Matsco, a division of Wells Fargo, a leading specialty health care lender. During his 10 years there, Mr. Merklin originated more than $300 million in loans for veterinarians and dentists who were acquiring a practice or property, consolidating debt or expanding their businesses.

    Mr. Merklin is a graduate of the University of San Francisco.

    Barbara Morrison


    611 Front Street, San Francisco, 94111



    Barbara Morrison is the founder and president of TMC, a Certified Development Company that has provided over $5.7 billion in financing for more than 3,600 businesses throughout California and Nevada.

    She is also the founder and board president of Working Solutions, an innovative nonprofit organization that assists underserved micro-entrepreneurs with accessing capital to start and grow their businesses.  Prior to founding TMC, Barbara served as deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development in San Francisco and prior to that she worked for five years in investment banking.

    Michael Rice

    Circle Bank

    1400 Grant Ave.

    Novato 94945



    Michael Rice is the senior vice president of business lending, with a primary emphasis on SBA products, at Circle Bank.

    Circle Bank, a preferred lender, provides the full range of SBA programs, 7(a), 504, Patriot and Express loans.

    Mr. Rice, who joined Circle Bank in April 2009, has spent more than 20 years in senior management and lending positions with banks and financial services firms in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Mr. Rice has held senior management positions with top-tier banks in the region.

    Mr. Rice has worked with small business owners in the North Bay for 26 years providing financing solutions tailored to fit each of their needs.   He has helped businesses obtain loans in a variety of business segments, including commercial real estate, hospitality and hotels, construction and retail products and services.

    Mr. Rice resides in San Anselmo with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children. Long active in community activities, he has served on the boards of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, the San Rafael Rotary Club and the Area Government Guaranteed Lenders Association.

    Tracy Sheppard

    Wells Fargo Bank N.A.

    200 B St. #205

    Santa Rosa 95401



    Tracy Sheppard is a business development officer at Wells Fargo Bank where he is responsible for managing SBA lending in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

    He has been in his current position since 2007 and in the real estate and commercial finance industry for 12 years.

    Mr. Sheppard is a lifelong resident of Sonoma County and currently resides in Santa Rosa with his wife and two sons.

    Joe Smith

    Sonoma Bank

    801 Fourth St.

    Santa Rosa 95404



    Joe Smith has been with Sterling Savings Bank – owner of Sonoma Bank – for two and a half years. He is the senior vice president and manager for all SBA lending at SSB.

    He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in finance and started his banking career in 1989.

    He become an SBA banker in 1993 and has been managing SBA divisions since 1995.

    “In that time I have set up SBA lending teams for community banks from scratch and led one of the largest SBA teams on the East Coast for First Union Small Business Capital,” he said.

    He has been the executive vice president and national sales manager for a top 20 non-bank lender as well as president of an SBA business industrial development company (BIDCO) that specialized in SBA direct lending. In 1999 he was awarded the SBA Financial Advocate of the Year award for the state of Tennessee, and he is an active member of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders with years of service on numerous NAGGL committees. Sonoma Bank wrote.

    Sherrill Stockton

    Exchange Bank

    545 Fourth St.

    Santa Rosa 95401



    Sherrill Stockton, a seasoned banker with more than 20 years experience, joined Exchange Bank from Sonoma Bank, where she held a similar position leading the SBA department.

    A graduate of Stanford University and recognized Small Business Administration loan expert, she currently sits on the SBA Technical Issues Committee of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders and is also a member of the Small Bank Committee working collaboratively with the central office of the SBA in Washington, D.C.

    Ms. Stockton currently serves on the board of the American Heart Association and the Family Service Agency.  She is an active volunteer with United Way, the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce and Redwood Empire Food Bank.

    Spencer Stratton

    Resource Capital

    501 Beale St. #15G

    San Francisco 94105



    Spencer Stratton started his lending career in Omaha, Neb., in 1978 and worked in various SBA offices throughout the United States over the next 26 years.

    In 1997 he was appointed as the assistant district director for financial assistance in the San Francisco District SBA office, where he managed the SBA loan portfolio of 7,000 small business loans worth more than $2 billion with annual loan production of more than $600 million.  The agency worked with more than 100 local banks and certified development companies.  He coordinated SBA loan outreach with SCORE, SBDC, microlenders and chamber of commerce groups.

    He is active with the Bay Area Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders to coordinate lender training and conferences for active SBA lenders. Mr. Spencer served as a member of the board of directors for the San Francisco Risk Management Association.

    Since retirement from the San Francisco District SBA in 2004, Mr. Spencer has been a business development officer for Resource Capital, a SBA CDC lender that specializes in 504 lending.

    Bob Thompson

    Bay Area Development Co.

    1801 Oakland Blvd. #100

    Walnut Creek 94596



    Bob Thompson joined Bay Area Development Co. in 1995 as a vice president and commercial loan officer focusing primarily on projects in San Francisco, Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties, and secondarily throughout the state of California.

    Mr. Thompson has more than 25 years of commercial and SBA loan underwriting and business development experience.  He formerly served as a director of training and development, senior credit officer and processing loan officer with Heller First Capital Corp. in its San Francisco office.

    He is a board member and current treasurer of Healthy Community Consortium, a nonprofit organization located in Petaluma that promotes healthy communities. Mr. Thompson holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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