Client Feature Story - Community Banking for Graham & Dunn

One of a series of online client feature stories created to demonstrate this law firm’s industry experience and deep commitment to client relationships.

Text of the original article appears below (Copyright 2003 - 2010, Graham and Dunn):

GLACIER BANCORP MAKES THE GRADE FOR COMMUNITY BANKING

Graham & Dunn’s banking expertise an asset to multi-bank holding company

If you could create a report card for Montana, you might give it an A+ for its wide-open country or snow-capped peaks. According to Standard & Poor’s ranking, however, Montana also is home to an A+ business—Glacier Bancorp, a multi-bank holding company headquartered in Kalispell and a client of Graham & Dunn since 1995.

In fact, Glacier Bancorp, which has been publicly traded since 1984, is one of the few banks in the country that has maintained a Standard & Poor’s A+ ranking. “We’ve achieved more than ten years of double-digit earnings growth and double-digit dividends growth,” says Mick Blodnick, president and CEO of Glacier Bancorp since 1998.

What has made possible this long-term growth and consistent earnings potential for shareholders? According to Mick, it’s two things: “We are committed to our core competency—community banking. And we have a tremendous team of 885 employees who want to work for an independent community banking structure.”

A COMPANY OF BANKS

Mick actually describes Glacier Bancorp as “a company of banks, instead of a banking company.” Glacier Bancorp operates seven full-service, independent community banks with 54 branches in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Utah.

“We respect our banks’ knowledge of their market, and we give them complete autonomy to promote and sell their banking products within that market,” Mick says. Local bank management also is responsible for asset quality and loan portfolios. “Given our operating structure, it works better to hold each bank accountable for results,” Mick adds.

As the umbrella holding company, Glacier Bancorp handles most of the required, non-customer facing activities for its seven banking subsidiaries. These activities include internal audits, external credit reviews, accounting, investments, and regulatory and statutory compliance.

Centralizing these functions saves money for Glacier Bancorp and gives the community banks more time to focus on serving their communities. And serve them, they do.

A COMMUNITY BANKING PHILOSOPHY

“Community banking doesn’t just happen between the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM,” Mick says.

Many of the people at Glacier Bancorp’s community banks—from the bank tellers to the bank president—are actively involved in the small communities of 25,000 to 100,000 people in which the banks operate. Mick says bank employees support local fund drives, and serve on committees for local schools and service clubs.

“Our people’s roots are in these communities. It’s no wonder they give their time, talent and financial backing,” Mick says.

Glacier Bancorp’s roots are in Montana, too. The company got its start in 1955 as a single office savings and loan association. Today the holding company has more than $2.7 billion in assets and is the largest publicly held commercial banking institution in the inland Northwest.

Mick says this success is due to both well-managed internal growth and to external growth through bank acquisitions in economically robust, fast-growing cities and counties. Many of these places have experienced in the last decade population growth two to four times the national average.

LEGAL GUIDANCE CONTRIBUTES TO GROWTH

Graham & Dunn has directed Glacier Bancorp through their strategic acquisitions, led by attorney Steve Klein. Graham & Dunn also has assisted Glacier Bancorp with SEC reporting, litigation related to some of the acquisitions, and tax advice.

Steve Klein " understands our philosophy, our strengths, and the kind of acquisitions that might make sense for us." (Mick Blodnick , President & CEO Glacier Bancorp, Inc.)

Steve attributes part of the success of the business relationship to experience. “Graham & Dunn has helped other regional banks grow, so we could visualize how Glacier Bancorp could grow, too,” Steve says. Mick notes that Steve knows Glacier Bancorp as well as any of its employees. “He understands our philosophy, our strengths, and the kind of acquisitions that might make sense for us,” he says. “Steve’s familiarity with our company is invaluable,” Mick concludes.


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