Katahdin Trust Co. on Wednesday opened its latest Bangor operation, continuing a push into the market that began in earnest four years ago.
The Houlton-based bank has been making loans in the Bangor area for about a decade, President and CEO Jon Prescott told the Bangor Daily News, and opened a loan production office on Stillwater Avenue in 2008.
On Wednesday, the 94-year-old Katahdin Trust opened a new office at 52 Springer Drive, in the Christmas Tree Shops Plaza. That location is home to a retail banking operation and the Stillwater Avenue offices have been moved to the new location as well.
In 2010, the bank opened its first Bangor-area retail branch on Broadway; that operation was joined by a second one a year later in Hampden.
“While we’re very loyal to our Aroostook County market, we see there’s a niche in traditional community banking in the Bangor area, and we’re very attracted to that,” said Prescott.
Today, the bank has 17 locations and almost $560 million total assets.
Prescott said the bank plans to focus on its newer operations and growing that business. It has no specific plans for future expansion, he said, though opportunities may arise.
“We’re opportunistic and are always looking for potential expansion, which will probably be in the Greater Bangor area for now,” said Prescott.
The bank has an acquisitive history. In 2000, Katahdin Trust doubled its locations and increased its assets by 62 percent with the acquisition of eight Aroostook branches of Peoples Heritage Bank (now TD Bank) located in Mars Hill, Easton, Eagle Lake, Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Van Buren, Ashland and Washburn.
And in 2007, Katahdin Trust acquired Maine Financial Group, located in Scarborough, and continues to operate it as a commercial loan office. Later that year, the bank expanded its Scarborough location with the addition of a commercial services officer.
Prescott said Wednesday that while the bank isn’t seeing a big economic boom in its markets, it has seen strong loan growth last year and especially through the first quarter of this year.
“We do have money to lend; we are seeing borrowers that are initiating new projects,” said Prescott.
Pete St. John, senior vice president of commercial services, said the bank is seeing loan activity from businesses across a variety of sectors. Some may have extra cash to spend on expansion, but are holding off because they still are unsure about the economy, he noted.
The bank announced Wednesday that it had been named a “preferred lender” by the Small Business Administration. That designation means Katahdin Trust Co. loan officers will be able to process and close SBA loans more quickly as much of the loan underwriting is delegated to the lender, streamlining the loan process while obtaining faster authorization for SBA loan applications.
“It will shorten our timeline by a couple of weeks as we look at SBA guarantees for our customers,” said St. John.
He said the bank’s participation in SBA programs — particularly in pilot programs — helped Katahdin Trust get the designation. Katahdin Trust was the first bank in Maine to offer Patriot Express Loans for veterans and also was one of a handful of Maine-based banks to process America’s Recovery Capital Loans for economic recovery.
“Katahdin Trust Co. has a long-standing record of achievement and is a leader in SBA lending in Maine,” said Moe Dube, SBA Maine district director, in a release. “With this designation, Katahdin Trust Co. will have even greater flexibility and autonomy in its SBA lending activities, and helping our small business owners get the capital they need to operate and grow their businesses.”
The bank also on Wednesday announced the donation of almost $7,500 to buy 24 cribs for the Penquis Child Development Centers in Greater Bangor.
“When we go into a new area, we like to see what’s available for us for giving back to the community,” said Prescott. “We felt that the partnership with Penquis was a natural fit for the types of things we like to do.”
Prescott also pointed to the recent announcement by American Banker Magazine that Katahdin Trust was included in its list of the top 200 community banks nationwide for the sixth consecutive year.
“I think it says a lot that a small bank from northern Maine can earn that for six consecutive years,” said Prescott.
The company has 191 employees statewide, including 22 jobs created in the Bangor area in the last 22 months. Its parent company, Katahdin Bankshares Corp., trades on the OTCQB under the symbol “KTHN.” In April, it announced first quarter earnings of $1 million, with deposits up $24 million over the prior year.