Bob got his start in banking in 1993 through a chance encounter with a banker who would end up changing the trajectory of his life and career. After graduating from OSU with a degree in International Business, Bob moved to Tigard to look for a job. Like many college grads, he was saddled with debt and cashless. He borrowed $25 from his sister and headed to the local Bank of America branch to open an account. Bob recalls being enthusiastically greeted by the branch manager, Lauren Ross. While getting Bob’s new account opened, Lauren encouraged him to apply for a part-time teller position at the bank. She handed him a job application along with his new account paperwork.
Bob left the bank and headed to a job interview for an import/export position. He recalled that the interview didn’t give him a good feeling about the company or the job. He thought about the advice his dad had always given him: just get the ball rolling and doors will open. He also thought about his encounter with Lauren. “She was proud to be a banker and laid out a vision for me to establish a career,” said Bob. “She carried herself in an optimistic manner and talked about what a career at BofA would look like. She really painted a vision.”
Following his interview, Bob drove directly to the Tigard library, typed up the Bank of America job application and returned it to Lauren that same day. He was hired the very next day. Bob would later learn that Lauren had made a special exception for him, bypassing the bank’s $100 minimum policy to open a new account. “This kind act was a pivot point in my life,” said Bob. “I often wonder where I would be if Lauren had stuck to bank policy and turned me away that day.”
Bob would spend the next seven years at Bank of America, graduating from teller to personal banker to loan officer to branch manager. Desiring an opportunity to work at a community bank, Bob applied for and took a position at Pacific Continental Bank to grow its Portland market.
After an 18-year career with Pacific Continental Bank, Bob had the opportunity to make a more concerted choice about his next chapter. “My passion has always been supporting employees and the community,” said Bob. “I narrowed my search down to smaller banks in our community where I felt that my servant leadership would be valued and supported, where I could make a difference. Then I looked at the people, and that was all I needed; it is ALL about the people.”
Bob’s choice became clear. “Pacific West Bank was the perfect fit,” said Bob. “Once I met Terry (Peterson, the bank’s CEO) coupled with the current staff, I was sold.” Bob joined Pacific West Bank as president and chief operating officer in January.
The West Linn-based bank is located just down the road from Bob’s urban farm in the unincorporated community of Stafford. He lives there with his wife Shannon and three kids: Henry (8), Lucia (7) and Jack (5). On the property, Bob raises goats and chickens and tends to a vegetable garden. “Most people look at it and say ‘that seems like a lot of work.’ I look at it as relaxation, happiness and a way to recharge my batteries,” said Bob. “It also instills a good work ethic in our children. The animals rely on you for survival, so it is a real commitment.”
Bob has added a woodworking shop to his property that would be the envy of any practitioner. He’s been able to upgrade equipment and make improvements over the years, adding amenities like a restroom and a wood dust collection system. He learned most of his woodworking skills from his father, who was an architect, professor and builder. Bob finds tremendous satisfaction using his woodworking talents to help his community. He is currently building six sets of cornhole games for a local school auction.
Like many bankers, Bob volunteers for a number of nonprofit organizations, including The Oregon Energy Fund, Bit by Bit Horse Therapy and the Children’s Institute Ready for School Committee. He is a director for Educational Opportunities for Children and Families, which runs the Head Start program in SW Washington. Bob is particularly pleased to support Head Start, which holds a special place in his heart. Bob was raised by his mom Vera following his parents’ separation when he was 4. Bob attended Head Start in Orchards, Washington while his three siblings were in grade school. This allowed his mother to sell Avon to stay afloat during that challenging period.
Bob is honored to be a banker and to serve his community. When asked what makes him proud, he responds, “The local bankers in Oregon do great things every day. We donate resources, volunteer and give back a tremendous amount. It is a joy to work with a group of people who enjoy giving back and helping others. With this move to Pacific West Bank, I’ve surrounded myself with bankers who have the same values as I do, and that is why I am so excited.”