19 civic leaders launching community bank
By Sherri C. Ranta
Planning to target small businesses, a group of local accountants, attorneys, financiers and physicians in November will start a new community bank.
Chairman and CEO Hans Mueller said Florida Coastline National Bank will be unique because its founders - 19 in all - represent a broad spectrum of the community.
"We truly have a good representation of the community - men, women, African-Americans, Anglos and Hispanics - a true picture of what this community is all about," he said.
Mr. Mueller, a veteran Miami banker, said a group of long-time customers approached him about starting a bank in 1998 when he was still CEO of Pan American Bank. He left Pan American to begin the project.
Three years later, Florida Coastline National Bank is about to become a reality after winning approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in Washington. It will be chartered as a national bank.
"Our plan is to move forward and provide commercial banking services to the general public as well as targeting small business throughout the community. It's an incredible opportunity," Mr. Mueller said.
The bank will open in Lennar Center at Southwest 87th Avenue and North Kendall Drive, near Baptist Medical Center, said board vice chairman Bob Harden. Ten employees are expected to open the doors.
"I think we can be a very good value for that area, doctors, small business, even frankly, the residents of the area," he said.
Mr. Mueller said community banks in Florida tend to get taken over by large regional and national banks, which eye large deposits in the smaller institutions. After the takeover, deposits are often moved away to areas where there is large loan demand, he said.
He cited as examples Bank of Coral Gables, Plaza Bank of Miami and Trade National Bank, all institutions absorbed by large regional and national banks.
At Florida Coastline National Bank, all deposits and loan approvals will stay in the area, he said. Loan decisions also will be made here.
"Community banks have and continue to prosper because of their ability to have personalized working relationships with their customers. That's what makes community banks so successful," Mr. Mueller said.
The founders also decided a national chartered bank was more in line for their needs than a state charter, he said.
"It means a little bit more in terms of powers... clout," Mr. Mueller said. "Not only will Florida Coastline National Bank be community-based, but it will be formally established by what we consider to be the best banking regulatory agenices."
In addition to Mr. Mueller and Mr. Harden, founders and directors of the bank's holding company, Florida Coastline Community Group Inc., are Maria Alvarez, a manager of Fortune Realty; Juergen Eisermann MD, an infertility expert at South Miami Hospital; Lawrence Feldman MD; Patricia Greenberg, president/owner of National Health Care Associates; Tamas Kallos MD; Duffield "Duffie" Matson, co-owner of Matson Chariton Surety Agency; Linda Marraccini MD; James "Jimmy" C. Merrill III, chairman and owner of Merrill Stevens Dry Dock Co.
Also, Kaye Peason, owner/president of Show Management Inc.; Norman C. Powell, attorney; George Quintairos, attorney; Mary Lou Rodon-Alvarez, attorney; Steve Sapp, CPA, president of the Farm Burea of Florida; Jose "Joe" Sirven, attorney; Steve Taylor, retired banker; Erik Van Ginkel MD; and Hugh Wood Jr., attorney.
"These people," Mr. Mueller said, "understand how important a bank is to small business. Our target market will be small business. We hope to be a very active lender in this community."
In addition to the founders, who each will own no more than 5% of the bank, Florida Coastline National Bank will be raising capital through a stock offering in the next few weeks.
Community banks, said Bob Schmermund, director of communications for America's Community Bankers, a national trade group, focus on meeting the needs of residents and making decisions at the local level.
Mr. Schmermund says it's not unusual for community banks to have national charters, versus those with state charters. A national bank has greater flexibility in making commercial loans and small business loans, he said.
"If you wanted to be a lender that wanted to focus on commercial lending and small business lending," he said, "you probably would look at a national charter."