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VENTURA COUNTY REVIEW

Ventura Bank's New CEO Will Focus on Ties to the Community

September 24, 1996|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Joseph Kreutz, a director of the First National Bank of Ventura for the past year, has been named president and chief executive of the 9-year-old financial institution.

Kreutz replaces Robert Zingg, who left the bank to pursue interests closer to his home in Diamond Bar.

"I'm going to really work on strengthening the bank's position within the community by developing local business accounts, by developing our loans to local businesses and developing our customer base," Kreutz said. "The bank was growing in that direction and I'm going to emphasize it even more."

First National Bank, located on Telegraph Road in Ventura, is planning to open a second branch on East Telephone Road soon. It has total assets of $44 million.

Kreutz had served as president of Golden Oaks Financial Corp., a Ventura-based mortgage-banking company, for the past 10 years.

In conjunction with Kreutz's new position, the mortgage banking division of Golden Oaks will merge with First National, with Kreutz stepping down from his presidency at Golden Oaks.

"First National Bank will be offering real estate loans with long-term competitive rates for homeowners, something that the bank hadn't been involved with before," said Kreutz, a resident of Ventura County since 1953.

"That will be in addition to the business, Small Business Administration loans and consumer loans that we already do. It will give us a well-rounded ability to lend to the community."

Part of Kreutz's new responsibilities, he said, will be to maintain the bank's image as a community-based, user-friendly bank, which he called particularly important in the wake of last week's announcement that Ventura County Bancorp will be purchased by the larger City National Bank.

"I think that merger will enhance our posture within the community," Kreutz said. "They were a local bank that had been able to react fairly quickly to [customer] needs, but now they are owned by a major bank in Beverly Hills. I truly believe that these bank mergers--with small banks getting gobbled up by bigger banks--emphasize the importance of local banking."

And as the small banks become fewer in number, he said, it is increasingly important for those that remain to maintain a high public profile.

"About 40% of all deposits in California are done within local banks, so they are a very viable entity," Kreutz said. "I think the banking environment is very competitive and we definitely need to remind customers of why a local bank is important and what the benefits are.

"When you pick up a phone to call us," he said, "you don't get an answering device that tells you to keep punching buttons. You get a person."

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