Luck of the Irish: Shamrock Bank opens in downtown Naples

The original application was filed for Gulf Coast Bank, but somewhere along the line the name changed to Shamrock, and the lucky sign of the Irish must have worked.

Ana Guerra-Thompson, customer service representative at the new Shamrock Bank of Florida in Naples, looks through her desk drawer while putting together a binder on Thursday. The new bank is owned by Ave Maria University founder Tom Monaghan.

Greg Kahn/Staff

Ana Guerra-Thompson, customer service representative at the new Shamrock Bank of Florida in Naples, looks through her desk drawer while putting together a binder on Thursday. The new bank is owned by Ave Maria University founder Tom Monaghan.

Shamrock Bank opened July 9 at the corner of Ninth Street South and Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples, capitalized with $20 million, and two weeks later, had pulled in $1 million in deposits and some $4.5 million in loans, said Greg Hallam, senior vice president and senior loan officer.

Shamrock Bank’s banks founders and officers are, needless to say, delighted.

"We are extremely, strongly capitalized," said Don York, president and chief executive officer of the bank that was organized by Ave Maria University founder Tom Monaghan and Amerivest Holdings partners Tim Kaiser and Clay Winfield.

The new bank’s chairman is CPA Paul R. Roney, the only director who does not live in Naples.

Shamrock is one of three new independent banks that have opened in Southwest Florida over the past year, according to the Florida Office of Financial Institutions. The other two are Hillcrest Bank Florida, which opened in August 2006 at 5325 Airport-Pulling Road in Naples, and Preferred Community Bank, which opened in April at 4391 Colonial Blvd., Suite 124, in Fort Myers.

Statewide, 22 new banks opened in the past year.

"We are just so happy to be here, so fortunate that the state of Florida granted us a charter," York said.

The Shamrock Bank of Florida opened on the corner of Fifth Avenue and U.S. 41 on July 9. The bank, which is owned by Ave Maria University founder Tom Monaghan, is considering opening an additional branch in North Naples by the end of the year.

Greg Kahn/Staff

The Shamrock Bank of Florida opened on the corner of Fifth Avenue and U.S. 41 on July 9. The bank, which is owned by Ave Maria University founder Tom Monaghan, is considering opening an additional branch in North Naples by the end of the year.

York said he and the bank’s other directors want the public to know "that our trademark is quality service and integrity."

"We want them to know that the bank is owned by local investors," he said. "All decisions are made here. we can give customers the best of service. (Directors and staff are) very visible."

A private offering, the prospectus of the state-chartered bank originally called for $10 per share, with a minimum investment of $10,000.

They sought at least 2.025 million shares, and set a maximum of 3 million.

"When we reached just over the 2.1 million (share mark,) we decided not to accept additional investments," York said. "Should we want to, at some later date, we could have another offering. The shares were sold at $10 with a minimum investment of $100,000."

There was an option to extend the offering for 180 days in case the organizers hadn’t raised the minimum.

"We did not need the additional time," York said.

The idea for a full-service community bank in Naples was conceived about a year ago, York said.

"Founders of the bank came up with the idea of opening a bank here in Naples, and concentrating on giving our customers the kind of services they expect and deserve,. With that kind of capital ... it allows us to be a pretty good player in the marketplace. Capital drives the size of the loans you can make," York said.

The key advantage besides strong capitalization is, York said, that "we’re not governed by someone out of state, or in Tampa or in Orlando."

Asked if Shamrock will be called upon to finance much of Ave Maria’s development, since Monaghan is a bank founder and director, York said, "Mr. Monaghan is one of our shareholders and on our board of directors. We hope all of our directors will (bring in) business for us."

"We do have some of (Monaghan’s) business (but) we certainly are not going to be his entire bank of account," York said. "We expect he will do business with other banks in the community."

York is pleased with the 11 employees that he has hired. ¶

"We have a great staff here. Most of our people have been in Naples for a long, long time," York said. ¶

Indeed, most of the senior staff have made their livelihood in Naples for more than 20 years. ¶

"We are raising families here. We are active in the community," said York, who left Partners Bank, Naples, to invest in and head Shamrock. Partners Bank was founded in 2004. ¶

Born in the United Kingdom, York’s mother moved him and his sister to Indiana when he was 14. He moved to Naples in 1984, and entered banking. ¶

He and his wife Sally have five adult children, and five grandchildren. ¶

Born in Fort Pierce and a graduate of the University of Florida, Hallam has been in the banking business for 32 years, most recently as First Florida Bank’s vice president for Lee County. Hallam has lived in Naples since 1988. Married 23 years, he has four children and is immediate past president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Florida. ¶

"My term just ended in June," Hallam said. "My successor in the state (organization) is another Naples guy, Tim Allen at SunTrust." ¶

That shows that Naples has matured as a banking center, he said. ¶

Before the end of the year, Shamrock directors plan to move the loan operations to an office at 3765 Airport-Pulling Road. ¶

A branch in the town of Ave Maria is "definitely" in the plan, Hallam said. ¶

"When we will be there? ‘When’ is a question mark," Hallam said, noting that it is very capital-consuming to open branches. ¶

"A bank of our size usually opens a branch every 12 to 18 months," Hallam said, observing that it takes a long time to get approval from the state; land is expensive; and the operation requires more staffing. ¶

Branches are "a huge investment for a bank," Hallam said. ¶

According to the April 18 prospectus, the bank’s target market will focus on small businesses, that is, businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales in the manufacturing, hospitality, construction, retail, health-care and service market, business owners and their employees, and real estate professionals. ¶

"For instance, a loan we’d be looking at might not be of interest to a Wachovia," Hallam said. ¶

Asked if Shamrock will be the mortgagor of choice for the thousands of homes that will be built in Ave Maria, Hallam said a Realtor is supposed to recommend three institutions. ¶

"I’ve heard them say that before. (It’s) so they don’t feel like they’re guiding or controlling their customers," Hallam said. ¶

Shamrock doesn’t own the land on which the bright green building sits, nor does the Collier Barron Co., partners in the development of Ave Maria, said York. ¶

"We’re leasing it from a trust. Barron Collier Cos. is not involved, York said. ¶

Other directors include Richard L. Copeland, chief executive officer, May I Help You Inc., a Naples interior design firm; Louis R. DePrisco, a real estate developer and investor; and Timothy D. Toole, president, Naples Title Inc. ¶

Susanne E. Bartlett joined Shamrock as the chief financial officer. She is a former Bank of Naples vice president.

© 2007 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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