For Stan Wilmoth, leading Heritage Bank of Nevada is about more than being the boss. It’s about digging in and helping his community through good times and bad.
By Ed Avis
President and CEO, Heritage Bank of Nevada
Location: Reno, Nev.
Asset size: $825 million
ICBA 2018 Community Banker of the Year – Western
For many bankers, the recession of 2008–2012 was a painful time. Stan Wilmoth remembers it differently. “I think the four to five years of the recession was one of the best experiences of my banking career,” says the president and CEO of Heritage Bank of Nevada, an $825 million-asset community bank in Reno. “It allowed us to prove that we are who we say we are. Every bank says it’s the best bank in town, but it takes a really good bank to see its customers through a difficult time.”
Every bank says it’s the best bank in town, but it takes a really good bank to see its customers through a difficult time.”
—Stan Wilmoth, Heritage Bank of Nevada
Wilmoth says his community bank helped a number of its business customers restructure their debt to match their reduced topline revenues. “We got a lot of families through the tsunami we were in at that time,” he says.
“Stan is a great community activist and a leader,” says Bob Cashell, who was mayor of Reno from 2002 to 2014. “I remember how he helped a lot of small businesses stay in business [during the recession]. He’s very supportive of different causes around here, and I appreciate that.”
Even now, as the economy recovers, Wilmoth says solving customers’ problems is one of his true pleasures. And he makes sure he is always accessible.
“I put my cell phone on my business card, and I answer it in all my non-sleeping hours,” says Wilmoth, who has been president of Heritage Bank since 2001. “We even advertised my home phone on the TV and radio for a while. I didn’t get many calls at home, less than 20, but it made a statement about our bank. The very little time I spent on the phone really reaped us huge benefits, because it showed that we are doing something to help.”
Wilmoth is quick to give credit to his staff for the bank’s success. Heritage Bank employs 75 people across seven branches, a lean staff considering the bank isn’t far off $1 billion in assets. “Our employees are here eight to 10 hours a day, and when they go home, they still need to feel like they’re being supported by the bank,” he says. “And it’s not just the employees but their kids and spouses, too. So we try to stay involved with things their kids and grandkids are doing, like sponsoring Little League and those things. And we still give Christmas bonuses and have a Christmas party every year. I think it’s important to get together and show the employees how much we appreciate the things they do every single day.”
Happy to help
Kelly Wilmoth, an employee of Heritage Bank and Stan’s daughter, attests that her father doesn’t shy away from the less glamorous jobs. “He is not just the CEO/president but can be seen shoveling snow, sweeping the drive-through and fixing the sink in the break room,” wrote Kelly in her father’s nomination form. “And he is super fun, like at the annual Christmas party doing the ‘YMCA’ dance.”
Wilmoth, who was a volunteer firefighter for a decade in the 1970s and 1980s, has shared his talents with numerous Reno-area organizations. He’s been on the board of the local Head Start agency for the past quarter decade and spent six years as chairman. He was also on the advisory board for the College of Business and College of Education at the University of Nevada–Reno, and was chairman of the Nevada Bankers Association in 2012–2013.
Heritage Bank is close to its community in another way: It is owned by 352 families, some of whom invested as little as $1,000 when the bank was organized in 1994. Wilmoth takes pride in ensuring that those families are happy with their investment. “I get the biggest bang out of them calling me and saying, ‘How are we doing, Stan?’” he says. “I wasn’t here when they invested their money in the bank, but that was a lot of money to some of those folks, and to give them a great return on their money is important to me.”
Ed Avis is a writer in Illinois.