Larry Sheffield remembers looking through his office window at the once-vacant acreage along Camelback Road west of Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, and sensing a golden opportunity.
He was a board member of First National Bank of New Mexico before coming to the area in 2001 to start a local bank.
“I realized there was a niche for a community bank that would be in this area because of all the growth that was being talked about,” Sheffield said.
Flash forward to the present and that acreage now houses the sprawling Scottsdale Waterfront, as well as the result of Sheffield’s vision: Goldwater Bank.
The federally chartered bank opens April 2. Sheffield is the bank’s founder and chairman.
The bank is not affiliated with the Goldwater family.
“When it came to the name, we looked at certain names and realized that Goldwater Boulevard ... is the street that connects the old Scottsdale with the new Scottsdale,” he said.
The bank began organizing in November 2005 and came together quickly.
“We went out and within 60 days ... we pretty much had most of our capital in place,” Sheffield said. “The minimum to start a bank in Maricopa County is $12 million or $13 million, and we raised $22 million.”
Among the bank’s organizers are Royce Clayton, starting shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays, Tim Braun, vice president and general manager of the Neiman Marcus store at Scottsdale Fashion Square, and Max Poll, retired president and CEO of Scottsdale Healthcare.
Goldwater Bank will serve business and commercial customers, said Kelly Dunn, the bank’s president and CEO.
“We feel like with the growth in the area, we’re here to serve the people here, and the limit of what we can do is just endless,” he said.
Sheffield describes Goldwater Bank as the Valley’s first “lifestyle” bank, a “hybrid of a community bank, a private bank, a commercial bank and a retail bank.”
“We’re a bank that’s going to have a concierge service, meaning the first person you see when you walk in our door ... greets you by name, knows who you are and develops a personal relationship with our customers,” he said.
“That concierge can do everything from getting priority seating at a restaurant, to being able to help with whatever our customers’ questions are, like who’s the best dry cleaner in town and where do I get flowers.”
The bank also will have an in-house courier service to pick up deposits and deliver cash to customers, Sheffield said. “We’ll be working against the Goliaths in town, the big four (Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, M&I Bank) and any other banks that like to lay claim that they’re local banks, and yet their ownership and board is all out of state,” he said. “That’s our competition.” Goldwater Bank will be a “high-growth” institution, and already plans are to open a second branch in 2009 near Scottsdale Road and Loop 101.