BayCom Corp acquires Grand Mountain Bank
The vote passed and BayCom Corp will acquire Grand Mountain Bank. I believe it is important for me to explain why I voted against the proposed acquisition.
First, a little background is in order. Grand Mountain Bank has been serving the Grand County community for over 16 years. The planning for Grand Mountain Bank began when WestStar closed their Grand Lake branch in 2001. Funds were raised, and Grand Mountain Bank opened in 2003, with its headquarters in Granby, and branches in Fraser, Kremmling and Grand Lake. I’ve been proud to serve on the Grand Mountain Bank Board of Directors for over 16 years, and as Chairman of the Board for the last 3 years.
Growth of the Bank was good in the early years, but then the recession hit in 2008. Like most of Grand County businesses, Grand Mountain Bank suffered as a result of the recession. But as a result of fantastic management and a solid team of employees, the Bank recovered. However, additional capital was needed, and new stock shares were sold. This greatly increased ownership by investors from outside Grand County. Before these funds were secured, we received assurances from our investment advisor, FIG Partners, LLC (now a part of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC), that the new investors had a long-term investment horizon. In particular, FIG assured us that they knew the new investors well, and that the new investors would not insist on selling the Bank after a few years if the stock increased in price, as expected. Even though the Bank had other options, based on FIG’s representations, we proceeded with the stock sale. The Bank issued new shares at $1.70 per share. The Bank once again grew rapidly, yet prudently, surpassing even the optimistic financial goals set by the board.
The Bank’s management team, led by President Frank DeLay and Vice Presidents Mark Lund and Randy Quillen where instrumental in the Bank’s recovery and subsequent growth. Unfortunately, all three of these outstanding Bank employees have been notified by BayCom Corp that their services are no longer needed. I hope the entire County will join me in thanking these three fine individuals for their services. If you don’t know them from the Bank, you probably know them from their involvement with Lions, Rotary, Chambers, high school sports and other community organizations and many charities.
One of the reasons that I believe the BayCom Corp offer should have been rejected is that the offer price of $3.40 per share is too low. The price is too low because the premium over the book value is too small. Book value per share tells investors what the Bank’s book value is on a per-share basis, and is determined by subtracting liabilities from assets, and dividing that number by the number shares outstanding. Currently the Bank’s book value is about $2.70 per share, and therefore the premium of the offer price ($3.40) over book value ($2.70) is $0.70, or about 26%. Premiums over book value can vary widely, but I believe it is too low for a bank as healthy as Grand Mountain Bank. In addition, FIG had estimated the value of Grand Mountain Bank shares at $3.80 just a few months before BayCom Corp made their initial offer. In addition, the value of the Bank is increasing, and as the value goes up, the premium over the book value typically increases, providing a strong incentive to take a longer term view, as FIG assured us the new investors would. Additionally, I believe a more robust marketing of the Bank would result in a fairer price. We really only considered two offers, and we did not formally put the Bank on the market.
Coincidently, the same day as we began voting on the BayCom Corp offer, The Business Roundtable redefined the Purpose of a Corporation to promote an economy that serves all Americans. In effect, they encouraged businesses to consider shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the community when making corporate decisions. This is a viewpoint that I strongly support.
I believe that Grand Mountain Bank employees would be better off working for a strong local community bank, then a large business bank located in San Francisco. In addition, employees who have been terminated would likely retain their jobs.
I also believe customers will suffer as a result of the merger. BayCom Corp plans to discontinue offering home mortgages. They will be offering commercial loans, but so does Grand Mountain Bank. Although BayCom Corp will be able to offer larger loans, this will only benefit business customers who want commercial loans in excess of 2 million dollars. Thus, an extremely small number of Grand County customers will benefit.
I also believe the community will suffer. Our friends and neighbors in Grand County have voted Grand Mountain Bank as their favorite Bank every year since it opened. I don’t believe the new bank, headquartered in California, will provide the same hometown service that the current bank does, because current management lives and works here and participates in local organizations, alongside their neighbors. And since it will not offer home mortgages, the community as a whole will have to go elsewhere.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the entire community for their support of Grand Mountain Bank and its employees for the past 16 years. I would also like to thank the shareholders who helped found and maintain the Bank.
If anybody would like to discuss this matter with me further, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the Editor
Grand County residents, did you know that there is a public survey available found at frasercolorado.com that is asking for our opinions whether or not to allow off-road vehicles (OHVs) on our County roads? 40% of the folks that have answered this survey in support of OHVs on our County roads DO NOT EVEN LIVE IN OUR COUNTY. Please take a minute to provide your feedback. No matter what your stance on the matter is, the most important thing is that decisions are influenced by FOLKS THAT LIVE AND WORK IN GRAND COUNTY, not our revolving visitors. Personally, I believe that OHVs are great fun and am proud of the fact that we have an incredible playground of County roads in our National Forests and Public Lands for them to be enjoyed on already, but I strongly believe that it is a VERY bad idea to allow them on County roads in our populated neighborhoods. We already have to deal with local traffic speeding dangerously through roads filled with families, kids, and pets; and in my personal experience, OHV drivers do not drive any slower and are already found speeding recklessly around populated neighborhoods with increasing numbers annually. We have seen record fatalities on our roadways this year, our infrastructure and work force (with no affordable housing might I add) are already inundated with tourists, and traffic….and noise…..and local frustrations and anger seem to grow.
Are there any logical reasons for allowing OHVs on our populated County roads that I am missing? Something that may benefit our locals, or ease a burden that I do not comprehend? Or is this proposal only about tourist-money and greed?
Either way, I just want our neighborhoods to stay as safe and quiet as is possible alongside the explosion of tourism, second homes, and short-term renters. Being able to enjoy a safe and quiet neighborhood is one of the many beautiful reasons we all struggle to make a life here. Times are changing and it must be embraced, but we must do so responsibly, and work hard to fight decisions being made by the few and solely based on money. We need to try and preserve a little sanctity in Grand County. We do not live in city neighborhoods; nor are they recreation areas where sun-up to sun-down recreation ruckus is expected. Residents do not deserve to have to deal with this while in their home neighborhoods, a place where they should be able to relax and take a breath from the daily trials of living in a busy tourist community.
To the Editor
In this day and age where law enforcement has so many non-supporters and are attacked in so many ways, one would hope agencies would be working together instead of trying to tear each other apart. Having been married into a sheriff’s office and working in a police department years ago, I witnessed first hand how much politics played in the role of interdepartmental relationships. It troubled me then, and it troubles me now. I have also become really aware of how much damage the conflicts can cause.
For those of you who haven’t lived in Grand County but a few years, there are some indisputable truths that factor into the situation involving our Police Chief Jamie Lucas, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, the FWPPD which was assigned to investigate KPD, and the DA. Before the sheriff was elected sheriff, he was a Grand County deputy. Before the FWPPD chief was in that position he not only was a Grand County deputy but also was the undersheriff. Further, his son is a Grand County deputy and the deputy’s wife is publisher of the SkyHi newspaper. I do not know how an unbiased investigation could possibly have taken place because of all those connections. I was also at the meeting of the Kremmling Town Board the day Chief Lucas was placed on paid leave and noted the two photographers who were there. When the photo of the Chief appeared in the “other paper” in such a way as to show him apparently hanging his head in guilt (not the case because I was standing next to him and know he had just spoken to the board and had taken a deep breath and slumped shoulders in relief), previous experience suggests, and I EMPHASIZE suggests, some real politics at play. My personal feel from all of this is the Town of Kremmling is as much under attack as the Chief and the PD. I live about 50 feet outside the town limits, but I know if I have issues, the PD is very likely to get to my aid before the SO. I do not know everything there is to know about the case, but I know from past direct experience in another state that when agencies have a non-healthy working relationship, everyone is potentially at risk. May I suggest if the DA says he won’t work with KPD perhaps he needs to be replaced?
Nina Wood, Kremmling