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Valley Bank and Trust plans merger
January 07, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Valley Bank and Trust Company has announced that over the next several months, they will complete a merger agreement with Laramie based Wyoming State Bank to become Western States Bank.

Valley Bank has Nebraska branches in Gering, Scottsbluff, Bayard, Ogallala, Grant and Wauneta. Valley Bank operates as Western States Bank in Fort Collins and Loveland, Colo.

In addition to its Laramie headquarters, Wyoming State Bank has two branches in Cheyenne.

The new Western States Bank will have $57 million in equity with total assets of $525 million.

“We’ve been discussion this merger for about a year,” said Gary Crum, President and CEO of Wyoming State Bank. “The core values of both banks are virtually the same. We have a huge commitment to our employees, our customers and our communities.”

He said that as a community bank, they want to be strongly involved as a partner in each community the bank serves.

“Size does matter in the banking industry, as the will put us over a half billion in size, which is fairly significant,” said Craig Ockers, President and CEO of Western States Bank. “The reason for this merger is our commitment to the core values of serving our communities. Size is nice, but we found each other as a good marriage partner.”

Ockers said they will provide local decision, local answers and local service. That translates into being more than a bank, but a company that will work with people in both good and bad times.

Crum said that between Laramie and Cheyenne, to Fort Collins, to Gering and Scottsbluff and Ogallala to the east, the entire region is a common trade area.

“This merger really helps us pull together the markets we serve,” Crum said. “There are a lot of common customers within that trade area.”

Crum added the merger will create a stronger bank that’ committed to delivering the highest level of service, cutting-edge technologies and the hometown banking values and benefits that customers count on.

“We’re making a huge investment in technology,” Crum said. “We’ll offer all the bells and whistles people see on the TV ads, from mobile banking to remote deposits. We’ll also have larger lending limits for our business customers to help them grow.”

Even with all the improvements, customers will still have the same local banker they’ve seen before.

“We want to be an active player in helping all of our communities grow,” Crum said. “If the community grows, we grow with them. So we’ll do everything we can to facilitate that growth.”

The boards of directors for both banks have unanimously approved the agreement. Still ahead for the bank is to get shareholder approval, which should be sometime in February. They must also go through the formal approval process with federal bank regulators, which could be completed by the summer of 2016.

“Bank account numbers will stay the same for all our customers, whether in Nebraska, Wyoming or Colorado,” Crum said. “They can continue using the checks they have now, so this merger will be a seamless process.”

Ockers said a big part of the merger will be technology upgrades. “Like every industry, banking is changing quickly on the technology front. This merger enables us to take advantage of the latest and greatest.”

The new bank is one of the first to use the domain .bank for its website. Their address is wsb.bank. Because of the domain is reserved for banks, increased security protocols are in place.

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