At Wednesday’s annual meeting of Tacoma-based Columbia State Bank, President and CEO Melanie Dressel talked bridges.
Yes, there were facts and figures, and yes, the news was likely pleasing to the 120 or so shareholders and employees who attended.
But it was bridges that Dressel wanted to discuss.
Images on a large screen onstage at W.W. Philip Hall at University of Washington Tacoma portrayed a series of bridges located within Columbia’s growing footprint: the Narrows bridges of Tacoma; Long Bridge in Sandpoint, Idaho; Hawthorne Bridge in Portland; Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho; Astoria Bridge in coastal Oregon.
“We cannot be successful without bridges,” Dressel said.
And growth, she said, remains a priority even as the bank continues to finalize the recent merger with Idaho-based Intermountain Community Bancorp.
That merger, expected to fully close later this year, took Columbia’s network to a total of 152 branches with 77 in Eastern and Western Washington, 59 in Oregon, and 16 in Northern and Southern Idaho.
Where will Columbia go next?
Typically reticent to discuss specific plans, Dressel proclaimed: “Boise.”
“We’re pleased with the direction we’re going,” she said following the meeting. “I’m just so optimistic about our future and what we can do. It’s all about the quality of the people we have.”
Along with increasing market share and growing the bank’s loan portfolio and core deposits, Dressel said Columbia executives are “preparing for a rising interest-rate environment” expected later in 2015.
Also on Wednesday’s program, Columbia Board Chairman William Weyerhaeuser declared the bank will offer shareholders a regular dividend of 18 cents per share and a special cash dividend of 16 cents per share. He also announced the retirement of three board members: Fred Goldberg, Daniel Regis and James Will.
Weyerhaeuser also announced that the bank would be increasing its pool of common shares from 63 million to 115 million, this to fund possible future acquisitions.
Along with the discussion from the stage Wednesday, the bank presented first-quarter results. Among the highlights:
• Net income for the quarter stood at $24.4 million, with diluted per-share earnings of 42 cents, up from net income of $18.9 million and earnings of 34 cents per share at the end of 2014.
• New loan production for the quarter totaled more than $215 million.
• Total loans stood at $5.45 billion at the end of the quarter, up $5.5 million from December.
• Total deposits at the end of the quarter came to $7.07 billion, an increase of $150.2 million, or 2 percent, over December.
• Troubled loans were 0.65 percent of total assets, or $55.2 million, compared with 0.62 percent, or $53.6 million, in December. The increase, the bank said in its official earnings release, was primarily due to acquisitions.
• Total assets rose to $8.55 billion in the first quarter, compared with assets of $7.23 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2014.