In his own words: Barry Collier of Heritage Bank

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: What is the role of Heritage Bank of Nevada in the community?

Barry Collier: The role of Heritage Bank is to provide financial support for local business owners, particularly those businesses that are looking for something more than to fit within the mold of the big banks.

NNBW: What's your role in the bank?

Collier: I am a commercial lender. My role is to identify, develop and maintain lending/banking relationships with businesses within our community.

NNBW: How has your role changed with the changing economy in Northern Nevada?

Collier: Five years ago my role at Heritage was to aggressively get new business and help build the bank's portfolio. I spent approximately 40 percent of my time calling on new customers. Now I spend most of my time maintaining relationships with our many existing customers and managing the credits for companies who have suffered through this challenging economic cycle.

It used to be easy to call on businesses in our community. My challenge today is to identify companies that qualify for loan products. It is very difficult calling on a company that is doing all it can just to survive. When we as a bank initiate the conversation, it creates an expectation. This in turn makes it very difficult when I am unable to help them.

We no longer call like we have traditionally called in the past because once you have turned a company down on a loan request, they almost never give you another opportunity.

Today more customers come to us primarily because of issues with and perceptions of the big banks, deserved or not. Many companies do not fit the big banks' models.

NNBW: What's the most fun in your job?

Collier: I really enjoy working with everyone at Heritage Bank. The environment is fun. We have great chemistry, we're a great team and we all mix really well.

NNBW: Is your job stressful? Why?

Collier: Today, yes, this is a stressful time. We are in the fourth year of this economic cycle and it is stressful to have businesses you care about having a hard time, and we truly care about our customers. I can't help but internalize my customers' challenges. To help offset the stress, I focus on service on helping our customers with creative solutions to build or rebuild their businesses and be successful.

NNBW: How hard is it to say 'no' to a customer? What do you do to make these situations constructive?

Collier: It is very hard to say no to anyone. There are customers that always believe the sky is blue and that if we just lend them money, they will succeed. I have to look at the trends and understand the situation they are in and make decisions based on historical information. They may be in a desperate situation and I have to help them understand that my responsibility is to make sound decisions protecting the depositors' money. I try to educate them, give them real answers and show them why it may not be a good idea to borrow money. I am honest and let them know the bank's position, what is required of the bank by our regulators and auditors, and what the bank's policies are. I explain to them that the bank's policies are established to protect all of our customers, and their deposits in our bank.

NNBW: Do you wish you could have a do-over on any part of your career? Why?

Collier: Actually no, I don't. We all get to where we are because of all the things that have led us to where you are today. I am happy to be doing what I'm doing now.

Even if I had known about the changes in the economy, it would have affected me just the same no matter what my job was. I look back at my early jobs as a pit boss for Harrah's and also at my position with Wells Fargo in the gaming group. I would have had struggles in either position as a result of our current economy.

Every move I have made in my career has been good for me and my family. I would not change back to any of my previous jobs even though I was lucky to have worked with some great people, people that you can trust, that are hard working, honest and that try to do the right thing. I learned from all of them and have tried to pass what I have learned on to my kids.

NNBW: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

Collier: My first job was washing dishes at the Stagecoach Inn in Austin when I was 10. The owner, Betty DelGrandee, would pay me $10 cash to wash dishes for her during busy times. The thing I learned and will never forget is that a restaurant dishwater is incredibly hot!

NNBW: Who would you most like to have dinner with and why?

Collier: My father died suddenly when I was 20. I would love to have been able to sit down and talk to him about my kids, my wife and my career. He never got to see my family. I am very proud of my family and I am sure he would have been too. My grandson, Jack, is named after him.

NNBW: What's your perfect vacation?

Collier: I have no idea what it is like to take a vacation other than a softball vacation. All of our vacations have revolved around our daughters' softball games and tournaments. Once our daughters are out of college, Pam and I would like to go somewhere that doesn't involve softball.

NNBW: How do you relax?

Collier: I play with my grandson. It's my family that makes me happy.

NNBW: What is the last book you read, and what did you think of it?

Collier: "Fooled by Randomness," a financial book. It challenges what financial professionals believe or think that we know. The book makes you look at financial issues differently and challenges your current beliefs.

NNBW: Who is your hero?

Collier: My grandfather, who came to the west from Oklahoma during the land rush days. He staked his claim outside Albuquerque and built a ranch from nothing. He truly represents the American Spirit.

NNBW: Do you consider yourself to be successful? Why?

Collier: I guess I do because I have a wonderful family, kids that I couldn't be more proud of, and a beautiful home with a mortgage that I have not even considered walking away from.

The basics:

Name: Barry Collier, Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer, Heritage Bank of Nevada

How long have you been in this job? Six years

How long in the profession? 18 years

Education: Graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno

Wife, kids, pets? Wife Pam, two daughters both in college on full-ride softball scholarships, one grandson, and our dachshund, Molly.


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