Before co-founding AltaPacific, Charles Hall, CEO of Santa Rosa-based AltaPacific Bank, served as president of Business Bancorp and CEO of Business Bank of California until it was acquired by UnionBanCal in 2004.
The bank’s board has local directors including chairman Timothy Jorstad, a Marin County accountant and co-founder of Metro Commerce Bank. Richard Dowd is an engineer in Santa Rosa. Attorney Joseph Zils, also from Santa Rosa, worked for JDS Uniphase, formerly OCLI. Randy DeCaminada, longtime PG&E employee, is from Cloverdale.
Frank Basirico, president and chief operating officer, runs the bank’s operations in southern California, where AltaPacific has branches in Riverside, Ontario, Covina, Temecula and soon San Bernardino.
For nearly a decade, AltaPacific leased offies near Sonoma County airport. Last year it moved to headquarters it owns, 4845 Old Redwood Highway in Santa Rosa.
The Business Journal spoke with Hall about the institution’s approach to business banking and its growth through three mergers in the past five years.
You are a founder, roughly a decade ago?
CHARLES HALL: Yes, one of them. July 2006.
You located here?
HALL: Yes. I had a non-compete agreement with Union Bank for three years. I had been CEO of Business Bank of California. Union Bank bought it. I had to stay outside a 15-mile radius of branches in northern and southern California.
Most of your branches are in southern California — Riverside, Temecula?
HALL: We are doing tenant-improvements on a new branch in San Bernardino. We also have branches in Ontario and Covina.
You lived there?
HALL: Yes. I worked for Chino Valley Bank, now called Citizens Business Bank, for 12 years. I moved [to Marin] when the CEO became a major shareholder of Marin Community Bank, which became Metro Commerce Bank. [MCB Financial merged in 2001 with Business Bancorp, parent of Business Bank of California in San Bernardino.]
We ended up with five branches up north and 10 in the Inland Empire — 15 total. [And assets about $580 million.]
You built that bank up?
HALL: I built the one up and then we did a merger of equals. We had a branch down there already. When we started this one, the writing was on the wall that things were going to get heated [financial crisis].
My background was credit, chief credit officer. We decided to not grow as fast as we had planned. People were giving too much money out, to creditworthy people, but not to the extent they were doing it.
Credit was overextended?
HALL: Right. A lot of my career was with Wells Fargo and Citizens Business Bank in the Inland Empire, similar to Sacramento. When things get heated, they grow very fast.
Everybody is moving there. It’s hard to time it. Sometimes you think it’s going to happen soon [a decline] and it doesn’t happen for three or four years.
Then you have limited your business expansion?
HALL: Right. It’s harder to be behind the curve.
As a banker, you always want to be ahead?
HALL: Yes. I thought prime was going to start moving up about five years ago. It’s tough to decide what to do. We went through the same thing with the dot.com bust.
We were headquartered in Marin. We had some loans we had to pay more attention to. We didn’t have any loss years or any big charge-offs.