First Interstate Bank appoints new Idaho regional president

photo of first interstate
First Interstate Bank entered the Idaho market in 2017 with the purchase of Bank of the Cascades, including this Kuna branch. Photo by Sharon Fisher

First Interstate Bank has hired a new regional president for Idaho and eastern Washington.

Lorrie Asker, who started on Aug. 15, previously worked for First Foundation Bank in Irvine, California, in a regional role. A long-time Idaho resident, she has been living in Boise for the past year and resided in North Idaho before that, commuting to California regularly.

“I’m really excited about being back here in Idaho, joining an organization that shares my values for community and teamwork,” she said.

Asker replaces Kurt Gustavel, former CEO of Idaho Independent Bank, who was named to the position in October 2018 when First Interstate acquired Idaho Independent Bank.

“After leading our Idaho markets through the transition as Regional President, Kurt resigned his position at First Interstate in June 2019,” said Sara Becker, vice president and marketing manager for First Interstate. “It is my understanding that Kurt decided to take a step back to make way for new leadership as a fresh chapter emerges for First Interstate.”

Gustavel replaced longtime First Interstate executive Rob Perez, who announced his retirement for the first half of 2019 at the October acquisition.

photo of lorri asker
Lorrie Asker

In the role, Asker oversees 36 branches, six commercial lending teams and 363 employees in Idaho and eastern Washington, as well as service providers and affiliated deposit services. The bank has three markets in the region: North Idaho, south Idaho and eastern Washington.

“I’m responsible for our strategic presence in these markets, making sure we’re contributing value to the bank and our communities, and providing a good and safe environment for our employees,” she said.

Asker said First Interstate doesn’t have any specific plans for further expansion in Idaho.

“The state of Idaho, in particular, is seeing a lot of growth,” she said. “We’re constantly evolving and looking for ways to serve the communities across all the bank’s footprints. We’re here to serve and grow with the community. Strategically, the bank is looking to grow. I can’t speculate on where we’ll find opportunities for growth.”

Parent company First Interstate BancSystem has acquired a total of four Idaho banks. The Billings, Montana-based company announced in October 2018 that it had acquired Idaho Independent Bank, based in Coeur d’Alene, and Community 1st Bank, based in Post Falls. In mid-August 2018, the company closed on its April 2018 acquisition of Northwest Bancorporation Inc., which operated in Washington and Idaho as Inland Northwest Bank. Inland Northwest had three branches in Idaho, two in Coeur d’Alene and one in Spirit Lake.

First Interstate entered Idaho in May 2017 through another acquisition, Bank of the Cascades. Before the October acquisitions, it had about 120 branches in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

However, the bank may be done with acquisitions for a while, she indicated. “We’re looking for growing organically.”

Asker’s office is based in the First Interstate office in Boise at 401 West Front Street, but she will travel to the various regions.

“I’m visiting all our offices and meeting our team members in my first 75 days here,” she said. “For my first 90 days, I’m just observing and understanding how things are working, and looking for opportunities to improve and to grow. I don’t have any immediate plans to change anything.”

Like many banks, First Interstate is working on technology to look for ways to better serve its clients, Asker said.

“My job is to remove obstacles and help them execute on all the tasks,” she said. “We’re working as an institution on projects and initiatives to accomplish those goals.”

First Interstate Bank will move to Pioneer Crossing

First Interstate Bank will leave Plaza 121 at Ninth and Idaho streets. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The Idaho regional headquarters for First Interstate Bank will move into the Pioneer Crossing office building that just started construction at Myrtle and 13th streets in downtown Boise.

First Interstate is the first tenant announced for the five-story, 120,000-square-foot office building scheduled to open in summer 2019. First Interstate will occupy about 15,000 square feet on the second floor along with a ground floor bank branch, regional President Rob Perez said.

Pioneer Crossing developer Gardner Company/Ball Ventures anticipates announcing a second tenant for the office building sometime in July, said David Wali, Gardner’s executive vice president.

Also in July, Pioneer Crossing’s other major tenants are expected to open with the 150-room Hilton Garden Inn at Front and 13th streets and Panera Bread at Myrtle and 11th streets.

An 850-space garage has been open to the public since early April at Front and 11th streets. The garage also has the offices of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, Boise Valley Economic Partnership and Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Rob Perez

First Interstate Bank has outgrown its 8,500 square feet in the Plaza 121 tower at Ninth and Idaho streets that the bank, Bank of Cascades and Farmers & Merchants Bank have occupied since 2006. Bank of Cascades later acquired F&M and in May 2017 First Interstate acquired Bank of the Cascades.

The Billings, Montana, bank has about 120 branches in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming. The Idaho region overseen from Boise has 14 branches from Mountain Home to Fruitland with a total of 140 employees.

“I anticipate continued acquisitions (of other banks),” Perez said. “I anticipate additional organic growth.”

First Interstate has about 25 employees at its Plaza 121 office and expects to open at Pioneer Crossing with 35 employees, he said.

“We have outgrown this space,” he said.

When Perez joined Bank of Cascades just over two years ago, seven other employees from his former bank followed him. The commercial banking office has moved from Overland and Eagle to Plaza 121 since First Interstate took over.

Perez said First Interstate also wants to add new services to the Idaho division such as wealth management and payment services, both of which will add more people to the administrative office. He also envisions moving some staff from branches to Pioneer Crossing.

Perez said Pioneer Crossing was chosen for the new First Interstate office because many downtown towers with sufficient space already have bank offices and lease exclusivity that bars other banks from moving in.

“That makes our options very limited,” he said. “The beauty about Pioneer Crossing is the parking garage is next door.”

He said the bank’s visibility at the inbound Connector is valuable and the location is still close to the downtown core, a block away from JUMP and the J.R. Simplot Co. corporate headquarters.

“The core is expanding,” Perez noted. “Pioneer Crossing will be in the core soon.”