Mountain West Bank moves downtown Boise branch

Sharon Fisher//December 16, 2019

Mountain West Bank moves downtown Boise branch

Sharon Fisher//December 16, 2019

photo of mountain west bank
Mountain West Bank is moving its downtown Boise branch to the former First Security space at 9th & Idaho. Photo courtesy of Mountain West Bank

Mountain West Bank is moving its downtown Boise branch.

Previously located in the Hoff Building at 8th and Bannock, where the Coeur d’Alene-based bank had both the 11th floor and the main floor, it is now moving into the previous First Security Bank space at 9th and Idaho, said Dan Price, community bank president. The bank first moved into the Hoff Building in 2005.

photo of dan price
Dan Price

“We needed more space,” Price said. “It was a boutique branch, with low ceilings, and we’ve outgrown it.”

Ironically, Price, who has been with Mountain West for 18 years, started his career as a teller in the new space. The building was built in 1956 and significantly renovated in 2004 and 2005.

In both cases, the bank leases the space, Price said. It’s not the first time Mountain West has acquired First Security space; it also acquired four branches First Security Bank divested during a 2000-01 merger with Wells Fargo.

The new, larger space will let Mountain West expand by about five jobs over the next 12 to 18 months, Price said. These could include a customer service representative, consumer lender, personal banker, commercial lender and real estate lender, he said.

Unusual corporate structure

Mountain West’s parent company is Glacier Bancorp, based in Kalispell, Montana, which bought Mountain West in 1998. Glacier also owns Citizens Community Bank, based in Pocatello. Mountain West has 21 branches, including Hailey, Hayden, Ketchum, Meridian and Post Falls, as well as in Spokane, while Citizens Community has another 10 or 12, he said.

“Glacier is a ‘bank of banks,’” Price said.

The arrangement gives Mountain West the advantages of a regional bank, such as centralized audit and information technology services, and the personalization of a community bank, he said.

Typically when a regional or national bank buys a community bank, they immediately change the name and way things operate and hope in the process they can retain the employees, Price said.

“When you’re buying a community bank that is used to being autonomous and operating by themselves, it doesn’t work so well,” he said.

However, while Glacier injected capital into Mountain West, it kept the name, employees and board of directors the same, he said.

A disadvantage of allowing subordinate banks to run their own operations is that it means not all the banks operate the same way.

“It’s a model that makes sense, but it’s not an easy model to do,” Price admitted.

But while it’s easy to require all the subordinate banks to run their procedures in the same way, in the process you can ruin the community bank, he said.

Glacier, a publicly traded company, buys about two banks a year, and owns banks in Montana, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada as well as in Idaho, stretching from the Canadian to the Mexican border. Altogether, it owns more than 180 branches. Most recently, it acquired the State Bank of Arizona, a community bank headquartered in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

“When you can operate as a community bank, with local people and local decisions, you call the shots, but your customers know they have the backing of a publicly traded bank, it tends to play well,” Price said. “We’re not really, really small, and we’re not really big.”

Altogether, Glacier Bancorp, Inc. is the parent company for Glacier Bank, Kalispell and Bank of the San Juans (Durango, Colorado), Citizens Community Bank (Pocatello, Idaho), Collegiate Peaks Bank (Buena Vista, Colorado), First Bank of Montana (Lewistown, Montana), First Bank (Powell, Wyoming), First Community Bank Utah (Layton, Utah), First Security Bank of Bozeman (Bozeman, Montana), First Security Bank of Missoula (Missoula, Montana), First State Bank (Wheatland, Wyoming), Heritage Bank of Nevada (Reno, Nevada), Mountain West Bank (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), North Cascades Bank (Chelan, Washington), The Foothills Bank (Yuma, Arizona), Valley Bank of Helena (Helena, Montana) and Western Security Bank (Billings, Montana).