WaFd Bank, formerly Washington Federal, cut the ribbon at its first commercial banking center in Southern Arizona last Wednesday, Feb. 12. Leaders of Tucson and Oro Valley’s business community were in attendance, including Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield and representatives from both the Tucson Metro and Greater Oro Valley chambers of commerce.
“The way WaFd is keenly focused on this market is by having their decision makers (in Southern Arizona),” said Michael Guymon, vice president of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, at the ceremony. “That is the differentiator and that is really going to help our economy grow.”
The new commercial banking center, located at 8001 N. Oracle Road, Ste. 151, will service the needs of Southern Arizona business owners, large and small, by offering lines of credit, term loans, cash management, treasury management and real estate financing as their primary care products, according to WaFd Arizona commercial manager Todd Gerber.
“Tucson and Southern Arizona has the University of Arizona,” Gerber said. “They’ve got a strong medical community and an excellent aerospace community. And we were lucky to get some seasoned lenders that already have a customer following.”
Gerber said the whole plan to create the banking center happened very quickly. Once he saw the potential in Southern Arizona, Gerber set up a meeting with WaFd CEO Brent Beardall. After hearing Gerber’s pitch for the center, Beardall approved the plan in less than 30 minutes.
“It was quick… Quicker than anything I’ve ever seen,” Gerber said.
Mike Brown, WaFd Arizona regional vice president, said it is important for the bank to have local representation in Southern Arizona to better serve the business community.
“I’m located in Phoenix and not everyone wants all the Phoenix bankers coming down to call on them,” Brown said. “They would probably like to do business with local Tucson bankers, and we’ve fulfilled that.”
Brown said he’s excited about Southern Arizona’s growth in recent years. He also said the Phoenix banking and business community as a whole has noticed the business potential in the Old Pueblo. While attending a recent conference which typically focuses on Phoenix development, Brown said the topic on everyone’s lips was growth potential in Southern Arizona.
“This year was remarkable in how they talked about Tucson and its growth. I find that encouraging,” Brown said. “We’re running pretty hard right now and would like to capitalize on these things for our customers.”
WaFd currently has 12 locations in Southern Arizona, opening its first location in Tucson in 1994.