Meet The Founder – Mountain Pacific Bank
Editor’s note: MyEverettNews.com is working to introduce our readers to more independent business owners here in Everett, Washington. We want to highlight their businesses, tell their stories and invite you to shop locally and help move Everett forward. If you know of a business we should feature, send us a suggestion via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Leland Dart – Publisher
When he was in college, Mark Duffy took a job as a teller at Olympic Bank to tide him over until he found a job as a CPA at one of those top 8 accounting firms. His father has been a CPA.
As it tends to do, life took a few turns and when 1st Interstate Bank and Olympic Bank merged Mark was offered a position in the commercial lending department.
He worked in commercial lending and banking for two and a half more decades, moving to a few other financial institutions before starting the process in 2005 and founding Mountain Pacific Bank in Everett, Washington.
“I’ve always wanted this to be my last job,” Duffy said with a smile.
A founders group he put together raised $1.1 million dollars upfront and after approval from the State and FDIC regulators he raised another $15.4 million dollars from primarily local people in Everett and Snohomish County to start the bank.
“I took bits and pieces of things that other banks around the country were doing (like a mobile branch servicing business owners) and looked to build something based on what I thought was needed,” he said. “I wanted to build a business bank that would provide great customer service.”
At the time he was putting together the bank Mark talked with Bob Dobler at Gamut 360 who was developing the Gateway Center at 37th and Broadway. While initially Mark wanted to put the bank in the location now occupied by IHOP, his wife was convinced the corner building was the better choice. With that, Mountain Pacific Bank had the location for their first branch right at a major entrance to Everett.
The Everett location officially opened in 2006. Two years later the Lynnwood location opened as the great recession took hold. That was a period of tough times for bankers in the Pacific Northwest as well as Everett. When Mountain Pacific Bank started there were fourteen banks with headquarters in Snohomish County. Today there are just five.
In 2014 Mountain Pacific Bank opened a branch in Ballard in King County and in 2019 they opened in Burlington in Skagit County. Mountain Pacific focuses on commercial banking and commercial lending and while they offer consumer services, that’s not a major focus.
Commercial banking experience, especially with smaller independent owners was a major plus for Mountain Pacific Bank during the Pandemic. While many big banks struggled trying to complete applications or automate the process leading to headaches for business customers, Mountain Pacific did a lot of PPP lending during the Pandemic. In fact while the branches were closed to the public with the drive-up windows open but doors locked, all of the employees came into work every day.
“We were an essential business and our employees came into the office to work,” Mr. Duffy told us. “We’ve never had a work from home component but did take precautions at our offices.”
The mobile banking option was in great demand during the Pandemic and continues as an asset today. “Sometimes its hard to get a business owner to give up control going to the bank but once they try that service they never go back,” Duffy smiled. “It’s a service that distinguishes us from other banks and makes us unique.”
Moving forward, expansion is on the table for the Everett-based bank but staff comes before branches. “It’s the people first,” Duffy told us. “During the Pandemic we really emphasized our customer service, our customers want that personal touch. We don’t have an #800 number, when you call or come in you talk with a person right at the bank who knows you and your needs. You’ll talk to the decision maker and we’ll listen. We’re smaller and flexible and do stuff that the big banks won’t.”
As we wrapped up our conversation this week Mark Duffy offered one last piece of advice: “If you know of someone who is looking for a career that doesn’t require a college degree they should consider banking,” he said. “You can start out as a teller and there are numerous paths that you can take to advance your career that don’t require a college degree but do require great people skills and if that reflects your abilities you should come talk to us.”
For more information you can visit the Mountain Pacific Bank website here or better yet, in Everett stop by the headquarters at 3726 Broadway and check them out for yourself.