In the Midst of Growth: Choose Kindness
By Oregon Pacific Bank
As president and CEO of Oregon Pacific Bank, Ron Green has guided the bank in ways that have fostered remarkable growth during his six years at the helm. But those who know him will tell you that his leadership has less to do with smart business decisions and more to do with how he operates. Kindness, he says, is the key to success.
“You don’t know how impactful it can be to simply smile at someone,” he says. “When I wake up and put my feet on the ground, I know it’s going to be a good day. And, I know that it’s another opportunity for me to make someone else’s day better.”
Founded in 1979, Oregon Pacific Bank is headquartered in Florence. This month, the bank will expand its trust and wealth management office in Medford to include full-service banking for businesses and nonprofits, similar to its branches in Eugene, Coos Bay and Roseburg.
One of the bank’s biggest and most recent markers of growth, however, can be found in Eugene. Between May 2018 and December 2019, the bank financed $100 million in new business loans and recorded $75 million in deposit growth at its Eugene branch.
That growth came on the heels of expanding the Eugene team, which grew from five employees in early 2018 to 27 bankers—many of which were former employees of Pacific Continental Bank, following Columbia’s acquisition of Pacific Continental in 2017.
Green considered the buy-out as an opportunity. After the sale, he reached out and met with several bankers, lending officers and managers at Columbia and asked them if they were happy.
“He approached me in a way that was kind, understanding and in no way pushy,” says banker Vicki Gray, who eventually made the leap to Oregon Pacific Bank. Several of her colleagues made the same choice, and with them came their business banking relationships.
Matt Sprick was one of the business owners who moved his banking business, drawn by Oregon Pacific Bank’s friendly customer service, which he always appreciated as a Pacific Continental customer. “I feel that OPB has that same environment,” Sprick says. “There is such a friendly, warm and inviting atmosphere from the moment you walk in the door. That level of kindness is immediately noticeable.”
As CEO of Ancora Publishing, based in Eugene, Sprick does his best to walk the talk and strives to lead with kindness at his own organization, propelling its mission to produce practical, high-quality, research-based books and programs to help educators create positive, productive environments where children feel emotionally and physically safe and actively engaged in the learning process.
“We are all—our company, our employees, and our customers—working toward the same goal—providing a safe and civil school environment where all children are valued and taught the skills and behaviors they need to succeed in and contribute to our society.”
That all begins with kindness, Sprick says.
As part of his own community involvement, Sprick leads the business committee arm of the “Spreading Kindness Campaign” in Eugene and Springfield, a grassroots citizen’s initiative to create a culture of kindness, with one small act at a time.
Anaheim, California, and other cities across the U.S. have served as models for similar initiatives. The campaign encourages random and intentional acts of kindness throughout all aspects of the community, including personal, family, neighborhoods, schools, government, policing, businesses and organizations. Its goal is to help Eugene-Springfield join other communities as “Cities of Kindness.”
“Matt was the one who approached me about joining the kindness campaign committee,” Gray says. “We are still in the input phase of developing the role of businesses, but we are excited about it and what it could mean for our community and other Oregon communities.”
As a business committee member for the initiative, she has helped make introductions and encourages other businesses to sign on and get involved.
She explains it in a way that only a banker can: “Kindness levels the playing field. It’s not like money, where some people have some and some don’t. It’s a resource that everyone has the same amount of and access to—spreading that understanding is so important, especially in our world today. Everyone has an infinite capacity to be kind. It’s what you choose to do with that capacity that distinguishes you from others.”
An avid community volunteer himself, Green applauds the kindness initiative and encourages everyone to get involved in the communities they serve. Being a community partner is part of the bank’s promise, he says, and it’s one that employees appreciate and embrace. To make it easier to get involved, the bank pays employees up to 40 hours a year to volunteer in their communities.
This culture of kindness and high level of employee satisfaction is reflected in the company’s most-recent recognition as one of 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon this year. Rankings are based on the confidential feedback of employees who rate their workplace benefits, management and work environment.
The hiring of additional personnel has meant an investment in the bank’s payroll of over $1.8 million, annually, Green says. “That’s a big investment, but it’s one that we know will pay off ten-fold.”
Growing at such a fast rate also meant that the bank had to invest more in its systems and processes and double-down on its commitment to its “Deliver on the Promise” mission that is the basis of the bank’s culture and expectations of its employees.
“Our community, employees, clients and shareholders are the integral parts of our foundation, and our promise is to treat all equally and be mindful of our impact,” Green says. “When we say we’re ‘Not Your Ordinary Bank,’ we really mean it.”
Employees will tell you that culture of kindness comes from the top down.
“Ron is a walking billboard for Oregon Pacific Bank,” Gray says. “He’s not a suit-and-tie guy. He is relaxed yet professional. He is approachable and visible. He still leads staff meetings, and he spends time in all of the markets we serve, making connections and building relationships. And above all else, he is a very cheerful person.”
Green appreciates the kind words but is quick to credit the person who shaped him into the person he is today—his mother.
“My mom was a single parent who had a very difficult life. Despite all that—and because of it—she showed me how to treat people with kindness and respect. I truly believe that we can change people’s lives through kindness.”