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Northrim's launch.

Northrim's Launch

Marc Langland is out to prove that one bank's crash is another's crock of gold. The 49-year-old president of Alaska's newest bank, Northrim, asserts that the stars -- and the all-important numbers -- favor the enterprise.

"My goal is to be a $100 million bank as soon as I can. The structure is there for wherever it can go. To succeed in banking in Alaska, you need to grow, and that is the course we set ourselves on," Langland says.

The course so far has not been easy. It's not the market, Langland notes, but all the financial and regulatory details attending startup. "It has been a fast track, (but) it was very difficult -- a lot of difficulties on the regulatory side dealing with state statutes that are outmoded," he says.

Raising the $9.25 million needed to capitalize Northrim was a particular challenge because of the bad rap banks have been getting in financial markets across the nation. Langland says Alaska still has a "very, very negative image" in the minds of Outside venture capitalists.

"It was incredibly bad. We bucked all the odds," Langland remembers. He gives credit for the founders' ultimate success to a combination of a strong management team and knowledge of the local market.

Northrim is the brainchild of Langland and Arnold Espe, the bank's chairman. Both are former executives of Alaska Pacific Bank, which later became Key Bank of Alaska. Northrim's founders agreed that, following the mid-80s economic collapse, the state's financial infrastructure was overly dominated by the two largest survivors, National Bank of Alaska and First National Bank of Anchorage.

The crash left a "very concentrated banking system, which we felt was not good," says Langland. "The concentration was just way off the chart for any standards of any place in the country, with NBA really picking up everything."

Wise though this consolidation may have been for NBA, Langland says it is this concentration that gives Northrim its golden opportunity. "Statistically, you had $500 million to $600 million in assets, deposits, sitting there in a bank that was not their (customers') first choice. It's a lot of money. So we didn't need a booming economy because we'd be taking market share from other banks."

What Northrim does need, and does have, says Langland, is a stable economy and a game plan. There is ample evidence that the economy is in reasonable shape. As for the plan, Langland says the new bank on the block will offer better quality service and attention to the individual customer, compared to a mass-marketing approach of other banks.

He explains, "We started targeting more the business and professional approach, because we couldn't hope to develop a branch system to be real convenient to everyone. We couldn't go head to head with them, so we're more attractive to the person who wants more attention. Quality service both on the loan and deposit side."

Langland charges that the state's big bucks are too distracted by the demands of consolidation to deliver top-quality service. He admits that delivering service, which he defines as a caring attitude that adds value for the customer, is easy to say, but difficult to implement and maintain.

Northrim's competitors, large and small, don't seem overly concerned about the new competitive threat, noting that time will be the best judge. Robert Gray, president of National Bank of Alaska, points out that Northrim's small size limits the size of its transactions.

"They're very, very new. So you have no track record to gauge them by. But I'm sure they're going to be aggressive," he adds.

The man in pursuit of the $100 million bank couldn't agree more.
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Title Annotation:Alaska's newest bank
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:company profile
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:Brighter economic prospects bolster banking.
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