9 leaders in North Bay SBA lending

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North Bay Banks were invited to send us snapshot profiles of their leading Small Business Administration loan officers, including their favorite SBA lending stories and bank news. Listed alphabetically by organization name.

Bay Area Development Company

Bob Thompson, Vice president

(925) 472-5603,

Year assumed position: 1995

Significant news: SBA reinstating, on a permanent basis, the ability to refinance commercial property under the 504 loan program. Although we are still pending SBA’s writing of the rules and regulations regarding this program, it was a great success when previously instituted on a temporary basis and should be highly beneficial to qualifying small business borrowers. It is our expectation that the program will become operational by mid-year.

Favorite SBA lending story: Virtually all of the projects that we finance have their own compelling stories. What remains most gratifying is being able to assist an applicant that has exhausted all other potential lending avenues and then seeing them prosper as a result of the financing. This is the true benefit of SBA: that it enables certain businesses to obtain financing that may not otherwise be available without the support (guarantee) that SBA provides. That and the leverage that SBA allows (lower down payment/equity requirements increase the field of potential purchasers/borrowers) over conventional financing.

Most inspiring leader: Steve Kerr

Capital Access Group

Jacklyn Jordan, President and Founder

(415) 217-7600

Year assumed position: 1997

Significant news at your bank: Capital Access Group was recognized recently as the fastest Certified Development Company (CDC) in California for turnaround times on SBA 504 loan approvals, and in the Top 10 in the entire country, receiving a 4-star rating — the highest rating possible — from the SBA for its work. Capital Access Group turns loans around in almost half the time compared to the national average of all CDCs. In California’s competitive commercial real estate market, quick turnaround time is essential.

Favorite SBA lending story: One of our clients, Marin County-based Equator Coffees & Teas, was named SBA’s national Business Person(s) of the year and the 2016 Small Business of the Year for California. Capital Access Group nominated cofounders, Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, for the award. We provided SBA 504 financing in 2003 for Equator to purchase its own, 5,500-square-foot roasting plant. We are honored to have played a role in the success of their business.

Calling the decision to purchase “one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” Helen said Capital Access “made the process very easy, and really walked us through the process. A conventional loan, with a down payment between 20 and 35 percent, would have made it impossible to own.”

Founded in 1995, Equator now has 90 employees, more than 350 wholesale customers – including the renowned French Laundry restaurant in Yountville – and three retail stores in Northern California with two more on the way.

These amazing women have not only created a successful, socially responsible business, they have also helped to influence the trajectory of the coffee industry through their early support of the Fair Trade movement.

Most-inspiring leader: The leaders I admire most are the hardworking small business men and women who start and grow their own businesses. We are fortunate to work with some of the most successful small business owners, the ones who are ready to invest in expanding with their own facilities. They work hard every day to drive economic growth, create jobs, and strengthen their communities.

Exchange Bank

Joe N. Smith, Senior Vice President, SBA Manager

(707) 541-1493,

Year assumed position: 2016

Significant news at your bank: Exchange Bank is extremely proud of its local heritage and is celebrating its 125th year anniversary through May of this year. The bank is designated a PLP SBA lender and operates as a full service bank throughout the entire Bay Area. Exchange Bank has continued to expand its outreach in home mortgage loans, commercial real estate and construction lending, trust services and agriculture loans as well as a solid retail banking footprint in the North Bay.

Favorite SBA lending story: One of my favorite SBA stories dates back to the first loan I ever approved as a lender. As a young SBA Manager in Memphis I was on the lookout for what would be my first SBA loan I would do with my newly granted lending authority. I figured I would know it when I saw it and I was right. That very week I had a man darken my door pitching his start-up business plan. His business was to be called “THIS IS IT” and as it turned out it was. This man (Gene) had a dream of opening a Jazz / R&B bar in the center of Memphis’s vivacious Beale Street. Beale Street is a combination of Elvis, B.B. King and B.B.Q with lots of flashing lights and people from all walks. Well poor Gene had been turned down by every bank but mine but there he was making his pitch. As it turned out Gene had some previous industry experience, two steady bands ready to play for cheap and a look in his eye that told me nothing was going to stop him. Even the name “This Is It” made me laugh when I thought back to the week before I pondered what would my first SBA loan be? Well this was it and I made the loan. After 4 months of leasehold improvements to the property “This Is It” was open for business and standing room only. Gene had made his dream come to life though perseverance, passion and a 10% down payment and an SBA loan. Gene’s club thrived for many years up until the day he ultimately sold it. I always think of Gene when I see that same gleam in an entrepreneur’s eye when they share with me their vision.

Most-inspiring leader: Benjamin Franklin. I feel so passionate about BF that I named my 1st born son after him. BF excelled at all of the things that make us human and in doing so he changed the world for all of us.

First Community Bank

Evelynn Porter, Vice President/Commercial Loan Officer

(707) 636-9748,

Year assumed position: 2014, in the position as commercial lender for 15 years and in banking for 21

Significant news at your bank: We opened a new branch in Milpitas on April 11, 2015.

Favorite SBA lending story: A world renowned artist, Gordon Huether purchased and remodeled a building known as the Hay Barn at the height of the real estate market in 2007. Because property values had declined, he was unable to refinance the debt and it carried a high interest rate. He had survived the recession but was stuck with a hefty interest payment, and banks refused to help him, citing a high loan-to-value ratio (which was understandable). When I joined First Community Bank, I investigated his problem thoroughly with Bryan Borders, our SBA manager, and our loan committee, and we were able to deliver a refinance that saved the customer $110,000 annually. It was a difficult transaction because paying off an SBA loan with a new SBA loan is fairly complicated and time consuming. In addition, no one thought his real estate value was high enough to support the loan amount; it was. Getting Gordon and his team to give us a chance after many attempts at a refinance was not easy so I had to be persistent. It feels good to work somewhere that allows you to really help people, and that is what I enjoy most about lending.

Most-inspiring leader: Queen Elizabeth the First, 1558-1603, for her brilliance and tenacity

Live Oak Bank

Randall Behrens, Senior Loan Officer

(707) 921-1099,

Year assumed position: 2014

Significant news at your bank: Live Oak Bank is the 2nd largest SBA Lender in the country. We went public in 2015 and have grown from 175 employees in 2014 to almost 400 employees today.

Favorite SBA lending story: As an SBA Lender, we have the pleasure of working with companies that are often times relatively young and in rapid growth phase. Our loans are critical to their growth and it’s rewarding to be such a significant part of that. The storyline changes slightly from one loan to the next, but in the end we’re partnering with passionate, creative, hard-working entrepreneurs to help them achieve their goals. That’s a story that never gets old.

Most-inspiring leader: Steve Jobs. I don’t think anybody has had a bigger impact on the world in my lifetime.

Redwood Credit Union

Jason Ehn, SBA/Commercial Lending Manager

(707) 545-4000

Year assumed position: 2008

Significant news at your credit union: Redwood Credit Union was recently rated one of the top 5 credit unions in the US (out of over 6,200), based on financial strength and growth, for the 2nd consecutive year, according to Glatt Consulting, an independent consulting firm that monitors and analyzes credit union health.

Favorite SBA lending story: Every SBA loan we help fund at RCU is my favorite lending story! Our business lending team finds great joy in helping small business owners succeed, and any time we can provide funding to a local business owner to start, grow, or expand their business, we know we are also helping build a stronger local economy. It’s especially rewarding when we are able to find creative ways to help business owners who have been unable to secure financing through other channels, or who simply appreciate the personalized service we provide to meet their unique needs. In the last eight years, we have made nearly 200 SBA 7(a) loans and nearly 100 SBA 504 loans to inject a total of over $215 million into our local community, as well as help to create more local jobs.

Most-inspiring leader: John Wooden

Summit State Bank

Brandy Seppi, Executive Vice President & CCO

(707) 569-4927,

Year assumed position: 2015

Significant news at your bank: The Sonoma County economy is continuing to improve, thus we are seeing more demand from clients and prospective clients to grow their businesses, acquire new equipment, expand facilities and add employees. Our focus this year on lending local is in full-swing. Summit State Bank is committed to helping Sonoma County thrive.

Favorite SBA lending story: Anytime we can help someone build their business — whether it is their maiden voyage as a startup or helping with expansion of an existing business — is rewarding for the borrower and all of us involved in granting the loan. There is not one particularly favorite story, but many. As a local community bank, we take great pride in assisting businesses to grow. The loan programs offered through the Small Business Administration continue to support local businesses, making our Sonoma County community economically stable and business friendly. Our experienced team is knowledgeable about the SBA programs and assists customers through every step of the process.

Most-inspiring leader: My mother. An immigrant from Spain, she came to California with her family and grew up on a dairy in California’s central valley. She worked hard to learn English, earn her college degree and later her master’s degree in education. She set firm but fair rules as a mother and always instilled in her children the benefits of curiosity, continued education, hard work and giving back to the community.

TMC Financing

David Griffis, Senior Vice President, Business Development

(415) 505-5023

Year assumed position: 2004

Significant news at your bank: TMC Financing remains the No. 1 SBA 504 lender in the Bay Area. In the past year, we provided nearly $50 million in commercial real estate financing to more than 30 North Bay business owners, who in turn created or retained an estimated 220 jobs in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties alone.

Favorite SBA lending story: The SBA 504 commercial real estate program is attractive because it only requires as little as 10% down. Interest is at below-market, fixed, long-term rates. Many borrowers either can’t get financing elsewhere or can’t get loan terms as competitive as this program offers.

We see great small business stories every day. For example, Dave’s Gourmet is a wholesaler of clean, organic, non-GMO specialty foods. His innovative line of hot sauces, seasonings and pasta sauces have earned more than 17 Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation awards, including “best in category” four times. His pasta sauces have been honored as “best in the industry” twice. An SBA loan from TMC is helping Dave’s Gourmet relocate from a leased building in San Francisco where rents have been sky-rocketing to a permanent home in San Rafael. Owning the building will allow Dave’s to operate more efficiently and build equity instead of worrying about rising rent payments.

Most-inspiring leader: I am always inspired by the entrepreneurs I meet every day. These are the real family businesses that make up our community. I’m lucky to be able to interact with them on a daily basis, which supports our local small business community.

Wells Fargo & Company

Seth Vander Woude, SBA Business Development Officer

(415) 537-8287

Year assumed position: 2013

Significant news at your bank: We want to help every small business owner create a formal business plan to help organize their goals and future strategies. A written business plan also may be required by lenders before providing some SBA loans and lines of credit. Wells Fargo recently introduced The Business Plan Center, a complimentary, online resource now available on, to provide business owners a simple, convenient way to create or revise business plans. It features a Business Plan Tool and a Competitive Intelligence Tool, which provides insight on competitors and the market that business owners can use as part of the planning process.

Favorite SBA lending story: Two recent loans we approved for veteran-owned businesses are among my favorites. Earlier this year, we helped finance a commercial building for a Sonoma County service business. The SBA loan allowed this business to add more square footage, own the real estate for their business, and do so with a monthly payment that’s comparable to the company’s previous lease payment. Also, in late 2014, we financed the expansion of a medical practice in northern California. The flexibility of an SBA loan allowed our customer to add a surgery center at his practice with limited cash out-of-pocket and affordable monthly payments.

Most-inspiring leader: Warren Buffet

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