Written by The Business Journal Staff
James M. Ford, President
Central Valley Community Bank
What we do:
Central Valley Community Bank opened its doors in 1980 as a full-service community bank providing personalized service to business and personal banking customers in the Fresno and Clovis region. Built upon a foundation of strength and security, the Bank has successfully operated for over 34 years, never losing sight of the founding values of integrity, trustworthiness, caring, loyalty, leadership and teamwork. Today, CVCB operates 21 full-service offices spanning seven San Joaquin Valley counties, with nearly 300 employees and has grown to over $1.1 billion in assets as of year-end 2013. The Bank operates commercial, real estate, SBA and agribusiness lending departments. Investment services are provided by Investment Centers of America and Central Valley Community Insurance Services, LLC, provides financial and insurance solutions for businesses and individuals. CVCB is dedicated to investing in relationships with their special brand of personalized service, competitive financial products and services and professional advocacy for customers.
I graduated with honors from the University of Oregon in 1980 with a Bachelors of Science in Management and Pacific Coast Banking School in 1992.
Family: My wife, Sandie, our four adult children and one precious grandson.
Tell us a little about your career path up to Central Valley Community Bank, James.
My 34-year banking career began in 1980 in the management training program with First National Bank of Oregon (later renamed First Interstate Bank), where I held various management positions over 17 years, through the bank’s acquisition by Wells Fargo Bank. I then moved to Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was later recruited to the family-owned Union Safe Deposit Bank in Stockton, California, where I ultimately served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Union Safe Deposit Bank was later sold to Bank of the West, where I served for two years in the Regional Banking Group in Walnut Creek, California as Executive Vice President of Planning and Development. In 2006, I moved back to Oregon to join PremierWest Bank, ultimately as its President and CEO. In mid-2013, PremierWest Bank was sold to AmericanWest Bank, which allowed me to pursue the opportunity to join Central Valley Community Bank, a bank that I’ve admired and followed for many years. I have gained valuable experience throughout my career and I am particularly proud to serve Central Valley Community Bank as their third president since opening 34 years ago – a timeline which exactly matches the span of my banking career to date.
Has Dan Doyle been showing you the ropes, so to speak, James?
Dan Doyle is a quintessential leader who along with the entire CVCB team has made my first couple months on the job fantastic! Dan’s retirement transition as CEO through 2014 and his decision to remain a member of CVCB’s Board of Directors, in addition to support from our entire Board, were critical in my decision to join Central Valley Community Bank. The Board, Dan, our Senior Management and our dedicated team of banking professionals are an integral part of the success of CVCB’s past and its future. I am so pleased to be associated with such a respected and successful organization.
Some of your past board service has included Southern Oregon University and the University of Oregon Alumni Association. Talk about the importance of higher education, and do you plan to serve on any local boards, James?
I was raised in a family who taught me the value of giving back and throughout my career I have been fortunate to have learned from great mentors who valued community involvement. My association with several university boards in Oregon, along with all the other boards I have had the privilege to serve over the years, has been fulfilling in so many ways. I plan to continue the level of community service that Dan and our Board have established and to have involvement in the banking industry both statewide and nationally to ensure that the community banking message is clearly heard by regulatory agencies.
As for higher education, I look forward to getting to know all the universities serving our next generation throughout the Valley. I believe that lifelong learning is a privilege, whether in the classroom or on the job and certainly a cause worth supporting. Not to mention, I love college sports and look forward to wearing red this fall!
Which is Central Valley Community Bank’s most important competition? Other local community banks or national banks, James?
In today’s environment, a competitor bank no longer needs to be next door or down the street to be considered competition. From local and national banks to non-banks with exclusive online service delivery, the landscape of the financial services industry is evolving. I believe that Central Valley Community Bank is doing a great job in all categories including delivering superior customer service with convenient locations throughout the Valley, in addition to ATMs and online banking for business and personal banking preferences. But what truly differentiates CVCB from other financial organizations is our unique brand of personalized service and customer advocacy. Our experienced banking professionals live and work in the local community and have a deep understanding of the marketplace. CVCB is committed to doing the right thing for our customers, employees, shareholders and our community each and every day.
What is the best advice you ever received, James?
Work hard and assume nothing will be given to you. I learned from an early age that hard work and determination would ultimately lead to success, if not immediately.
What do you like to do on your spare time, James?
I enjoy golfing, traveling, reading, college football and spending time with my family and our dog.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, James?
My first job was doing chores around the house. I learned quickly that efficiently completing my chores led to satisfaction and more time for fun! My first paying job was picking green beans in the fields where I learned the value of hard work and showing up to work on time (or the bus left you behind!). During high school I worked in a restaurant, a paper/pulp mill during college and repaired typewriters at one point. Each job experience taught me the value of hard work and the joy of working with others toward a common goal.