Business

Westsound Bank plans Silverdale branch

After growing to $30 million in assets since it opened in 1999, Westsound Bank has announced plans to open a Silverdale branch at the end of this month.

The downtown Bremerton bank has found its niche serving small businesses and bank President and CEO David Johnson would like to see the trend continue at the Silverdale Way location.

“One thing that’s unique about our bank is we have a courier service that picks up deposits at commercial accounts for no extra cost. When you think about small businesses, one of the biggest challenges is getting out of the office. This gives them some time back,” Johnson said.

The company chose the 9960 Silverdale Way location because it has a large number of loan customers in Silverdale and the branch will give them the opportunity to have deposit accounts at the bank, Johnson said.

The location, Westsound’s second, is also easily spotted by passing motorists.

“I think we got some of the best available visibility in Silverdale,” Johnson said.

Westsound has an advantage over larger banks because it can move nimbly, while other banks get bogged down in bureaucracy, Johnson said. For example, a customer at a large bank who applies for a loan on Wednesday might have to wait until the following Tuesday for approval — because that is when the bank’s loan committee meets.

At Westsound, a customer will have their answer sooner, Johnson said.

“All the decisions are made right here. That gives us flexibility to make transactions occur quickly for the customer,” Johnson said.

The bank employs 15 in the downtown location and will hire an additional five employees to work at the Silverdale branch.

“Our biggest challenge is to find the right people to put in place — we’re very selective,” Johnson said.

Bank leaders are eyeing several potential locations for additional branches, but Johnson said they will wait and see how the Silverdale branch performs before jumping in head first.

It’s too early to tell how an economic slowdown might affect the local economy, Johnson said, but lower interest rates have been a boon to the bank as people scramble to refinance homes and take out loans for home upgrades.

There is a lot of competition for banking services, Johnson said, and it is no longer a business where you can sit behind a desk and wait for customers to come to you.

“You have to go out and kick the tires a little. It’s become a face-to-face, one-on-one sale,” Johnson said.

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