Mohave State Bank celebrates 25 years with public-invited party today

Mohave State Bank CEO Brian Riley stands in front of the bank’s branch on Hualapai Mountain Road.

Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.

Mohave State Bank CEO Brian Riley stands in front of the bank’s branch on Hualapai Mountain Road.

KINGMAN – Mohave State Bank has grown from four branches to nine and increased assets to more than $600 million during Brian Riley’s eight years working there, which is almost a third of the bank’s history.

Riley came on as chief operating officer at the community bank in 2008 and was promoted to president and chief executive officer the next year, during the deepest, darkest days of the Great Recession.

“The board asked if I would step in and get a business plan to get us through the recession,” the sharply dressed banker said during an interview at the bank’s Hualapai Mountain Road branch.

“2009 and 2010 were pretty frightening years and pretty challenging. But advance three to four years and here we are extending the bank into a new marketplace and that’s very exciting for our shareholders and our bankers,” Riley said.

The CEO recently stopped in Kingman on his way to Prescott, where Mohave State Bank has acquired Country Bank with four branches in Yavapai County. It virtually doubled Mohave State Bank’s assets.

“We focus on two avenues of growth,” Riley said. “Acquiring and nurturing a relationship in one market and now we’ve expanded our geographic footprint into Yavapai (County).”

Mohave State Bank has two branches in Kingman, its second-strongest market, and is throwing an Octoberfest party from 5-7 p.m. today at 2202 Hualapai Mountain Road as part of a month-long celebration of its 25th anniversary. The public is invited.

Mohave State Bank was founded in October 1991 in Lake Havasu City, and is now one of the oldest and largest community banks in Arizona.

“There’s been so much turnover in banking in Arizona that, believe it or not, at 25 years, we’re one of the oldest community banks in the state,” Riley noted. “We’re not only one of the oldest, but we’re one of the largest at $600 million.”

Riley, previously CEO of Harbor Bank and Trust in Fairfield, Conn., and PriVest Bank in Costa Mesa, Calif., said large banks are experts at mass marketing financial services and you’re going to get good pricing, but they don’t come with many frills.

“Community banks build their business plan on serving small businesses and professionals and those individuals that have unique needs,” Riley said. “Maybe they’re buying new equipment or buying real estate and they need the expertise of a local banker that can make a local decision and provide guidance and advice for growth.”

Mohave State Bank provides retail banking operations and small-business banking, and is one of the larger mortgage lenders in the county’s rural areas. Even during the economic downturn, the bank did $60 million in home financing and small-business loans.

Kingman is an important part of Mohave State Bank’s overall operations, Riley said. It was the second market the bank entered.

Many of the bank’s officers lend their time to local nonprofits such as the United Way and become board members of the Chamber of Commerce and Kingman Regional Medical Center.

“Kingman is our second-largest market (behind Lake Havasu City) and in terms of economic diversity, Kingman has the best prospects for doing business with various small businesses, manufacturing and other businesses than real estate,” the bank CEO said. “You’ve got an airport, you’ve got a business district. Kingman, as the county seat, has a different appeal than other cities.”