Sunwest Bank has moved all its back office functionality to Idaho from California and is looking for locations for new branches in downtown Boise and south Meridian.
The bank, based in Irvine, entered the Idaho market in 2014 when Syringa Bank failed and Sunwest took it over, as it did several other failed Western banks.
“They were one of the banks that had been impacted in a negative way through the downtown,” said Justin Archuleta, market area president for the Idaho division, who started working for Sunwest in 2014. “They had a ton of great people. We were pretty lucky on that front.”
Sunwest now has 40 Idaho employees – about 25% of its overall workforce – with half in Nampa and the rest among the bank’s branches in Boise and Middleton.
Sunwest moved part of its back office operation to Idaho in 2017, but has continued to add to that. Now essentially all back office operations are in Idaho, including construction draw administration, the wire department, a call center and an information technology component, Archuleta said. The bank moved the back office operation in July to Nampa in the Premier/Title One building on Franklin near the Idaho Center.
Archuleta had originally thought of south Meridian for the back office operation, but found that square footage and parking were harder to come by. In addition, a number of the bank’s employees lived in Canyon County.
“That building came up, and the square footage met our needs,” he said.
It’s also conveniently located to the highway and has room for expansion, he added. The bank is occupying about 5,000 square feet of the building, and used the owner’s architectural firm and general contractor for some renovations, Archuleta said.
“The IBA is not surprised to learn of Sunwest Bank’s plan to relocate support staff and certain bank operations to Idaho from California,” said Trent Wright, president and CEO of the Idaho Bankers Association, in an email to the IBR. “All banks or all sizes have worked tirelessly to address challenges in recruiting and retaining a talented workforce. Idaho provides such a wealth of talent in our workforce that other states just can’t compete with.”
Currently, Sunwest has two retail branch locations, one in Middleton and one on Orchard Street in Boise, both of which it acquired through its purchase of Syringa. The bank had also had a location in Eagle, but that was primarily back office functionality.
This summer, Sunwest purchased the building it had been leasing in Middleton, where it is the only bank, though there are two credit unions.
“We feel the Star/Middleton market is in an up-and-coming area from a business standpoint,” Archuleta said. “It seemed like the right thing to do, to place our roots there and be the leader in that market for the long term.”
Sunwest president Carson Lappetito had said last year he was looking for a location for a downtown Boise branch, but the bank hasn’t found one yet, Archuleta said.
“We’re still keeping our eyes and ears open,” he said. “With the expansion of downtown, there’s not an abundance of available square footage.”
Sunwest shut down Syringa’s downtown branch in March 2014.
The bank is now also looking for a branch location in south Meridian, likely in the Overland Road/Eagle Road corridor.
“We don’t need an abundance of locations, but we need places for our people to link up,” he said. “We can easily get from Meridian to downtown for a meeting if need be.”
Sunwest ranks No. 57 on the American Banker list of the top 200 publicly traded community banks.