Idaho First Bank is proud to celebrate fifteen years of making a difference in Idaho during the month of October. Customers, staff, shareholders and board members were invited to celebrate during the week of October 5th–8th when goodies were provided daily at all locations. The team at Idaho First Bank wanted to share this major milestone with all customers as a way of saying “we couldn’t have done it without you.”
Idaho First Bank was founded in 2005 by Greg Lovell, Chief Executive Officer, after he shared a vision during a coffee shop chat with a friend (soon to become a shareholder) about why he was moving to McCall from Ketchum and the fact that a community bank with a personalized approach would be a good addition to the town. At that point, Lovell had been in banking since 1981, most recently after founding First Bank of Idaho, so he certainly had the tools to do it again. Staring out the window on that cold December 27, 2004 morning he made the decision to put everything on the line and bring a different kind of bank to the resort community of McCall.
Lovell believed if you get the right people with the right talent, you can create a team that will produce excellent customer experiences. Couple that with giving back to the greater good of the community and you’ve developed a bank that will feel more like a place for customers to belong than a building for transactions. Though it was his initial vision, Greg credits today’s success to all the people behind the scenes. “It’s not about me. There are sixty people beside me that make it a daily success,” says Lovell.
He also had the unending support of a handful of visionaries who became part of the Idaho First Bank story including successful business leaders Dan Krahn, Chris Kirk and Don Driscoll.
Together they saw the need for a business focused resort community bank. “Resort community needs are different. It’s something we all understand,” says Lovell. “In a resort community there are a lot of swings in the business cycle throughout the year. There’s also a large group of people who are second homeowners. Many times, those people value the area more than that of their primary residential home. We’re able to help them tap into their desire to own a piece of the place they love to live or play.”
Lovell also wanted to forge a special camaraderie with customers, whose unique community ties often bond them together, something he believed is hard to find in big banks. “Customers feel welcome, as do employees. We’re all part of the same family.
Everyone knows our name and we know their name. Coming into the bank is often a social event.”
After its debut in McCall, Idaho First Bank added a loan production office in Boise in 2007 and then expanded their mortgage banking arena, opening a full service branch with a drive-thru there in 2008. More branches were to follow with the addition of New Meadows in October of 2016, Eagle in November 2016 and Ketchum in November 2019.
Most recently, they’ve expanded into the booming area of Nampa with a loan production office that was recently approved to become a full service branch in October 2020.
Future growth is predicated on accomplishing their ongoing vision: to be the most admired community bank in southwest Idaho, a goal that guides all their decisions.
Today’s immense growth in Idaho is undeniable, yet Idaho First Bank serves businesses with local knowledge and a pledge to keep working capital and investments close to home, where community-building decisions always come first. “We want to capture as much of the local deposit dollars as possible as we use them to lend to others in the community.
For instance, home or business loans we provide can keep Idaho dollars working for Idaho growth.”
Idaho First Bank balances being a small-town bank with big city skills. As a community bank, they instantly adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, individual and commercial customers found comfort during a season of uncertainty when staff worked around the clock for months to help thousands of businesses acquire loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. While one of the smallest banks in Idaho, Idaho First Bank became one of the largest lenders of this program in Idaho.
Additionally, the Bank quickly adapted to the telecommuting model since more people are performing a considerable amount of remote business these days, especially in resort areas. Idaho First Bank is also developing a complete digital channel to accommodate society’s changing needs.
First and foremost, however, Lovell and team focus on the human experience. He marvels at how a small community banker can have a strong role in the community by being flexible, responsive, knowing their customers and giving back to the community in which they live. Idaho First Bank employees are given forty hours of paid community service time off a year to engage with neighbors and serve nonprofits of their choosing “to remind everyone internally that part of our culture is to serve the greater good,” says Lovell. In 2019, Idaho First Bank invested over $27,000 in charitable donations across the state.
Years ago, when a young couple struggled to buy their first home—and concurrently their young son passed away—an Idaho First Bank employee helped the family navigate a snafu with an unrelated life insurance policy and other financial glitches until they were able to purchase a home.
Another time an employee reached out to a woman suffering from illness who couldn’t leave her home and coordinated with staff to deliver meals to her home every day for a month.
Caring is in their culture.
When describing what a community bank should look like, Lovell tells a decades old story about when Frank Sinatra’s son was kidnapped in Las Vegas. Big banks wouldn’t loan Sinatra the $250,000 to ransom his son. But a small community bank saved the day, and his son.
Flexible. Responsive. Local decision making. Knows the customers. Gives back. Sounds like a tremendous formula not often seen in business today.
Idaho First Bank is constantly searching for ways to empower customers and employees to achieve their goals, viewing themselves as a guide, advisor and supporting partner for friends and neighbors in their communities. They have the professional ability and responsibility to help navigate key banking decision points with assurance, putting people
First, community First and Idaho First , a vision that hasn’t changed since Idaho First Bank was founded fifteen years ago. Happy Anniversary Idaho First Bank.
Not a customer yet? You’re invited to become one. Visit www.idahofirstbank.com today for more information on how to get started!