Each year, the Journal checks in with some of the key figures in commercial banking in Sonoma, Solano, Marin, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. Here is our conversation with David Casassa, senior vice president and Santa Rosa regional manager for Bank of Marin.
What two or three elements of the commercial banking business have changed in the last five years?
DAVID CASASSA: Continued strong economic growth has led to increased industry consolidation and competition, increased property and business valuations, and decreased availability of rental space (felt by both banks and their customers). For many organizations, these factors are driving more aggressive lending strategies. However, at Bank of Marin, we understand it is imperative that we remain consistent and stable for our customers, through disciplined loan underwriting, relationship banking, and understanding our markets.
In the North Bay specifically, what market forces might change significantly in 2019 and beyond, and why?
CASASSA: Growth sectors such as tech continue to expand, but a falloff in any of these industries would likely impact rent and sales prices in the North Bay. The labor, housing and office space shortages that have resulted from continued economic growth are also issues that must be addressed. Additionally, it is critical to continue to rebuild from the devastating fires in Sonoma and Napa counties, with a keen focus on commercial and residential real estate development.
How have customer profiles and requirements changed? For example, are customers generally more cautious or bullish in their projects?
CASASSA: While I am not at liberty to share details about specific clients, in general, our clients have been able to continue to grow and remain profitable while effectively managing their balance sheets. Bank of Marin takes pride in working with our clients to find financial solutions that will meet their specific business needs.
What’s your institution’s long term view for business in the North Bay?
CASASSA: Our outlook for business growth is cautiously optimistic. While the economic expansion that took off in 2010 cannot last forever, and business owners must keep an eye on potential risks, we continue to see ongoing vigor across the North Bay business landscape. Despite serious setbacks for those affected by the fires, business remains strong and rebuild efforts should help local economies.
Personally, as I take on the role of regional manager for the Santa Rosa market, I am excited at the prospect for growth and expansion that we are seeing. It’s a very attractive market and given the bank’s continued successful performance and investment in organic growth, we will continue to strengthen our commitment to serving businesses in Sonoma County and the North Bay as a whole.
Most inspiring commercial banking story you were part of in the past two years?
CASASSA: In 2018, in response to the ongoing needs of those impacted by the 2017 wildfires, Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, in conjunction with Tipping Point, established the Rebuilding Our Community (ROC) Resource Center in Santa Rosa. The Resource Center provides Case Management triage and referrals for Disaster Case Management and referrals to its member organizations that are providing services and support to fire survivors. The office has meeting space for ROC committees and individual or group counseling or information sessions. Bank of Marin was honored to help fund a program coordinator’s position as well as purchase furniture for the center.
Senior vice president and Santa Rosa regional manager
Bank of Marin
50 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95404; 707-508-3377
Year you assumed this position: 2018
How long have you worked in commercial banking?: I have been a commercial banker in the North Bay for 21 years.
Read other conversations with this year's North Bay leaders in commercial banking.