Interim First Federal president/CEO installed into permanent spot

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

2 chief officers named

Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — In his first steps as First Federal president-CEO, Larry Hueth has named two current bank employees to chief officer positions.

Hueth appointed Regina M. Wood as chief financial officer.

He named Ed Brady as the bank's chief risk officer in addition to his position as the bank security and compliance officer.

“They're very well-qualified and have both done fabulous jobs stepping up to the new level of responsibility,” Hueth said Friday.

Brady joined First Federal in 2004 as the bank's security manager and bank secrecy officer.

Wood, a state-licensed certified public accountant, has been First Federal's controller since 2006.
PORT ANGELES — Larry Hueth has been named First Federal's president-CEO by the bank's board of directors after having held that position in an interim capacity since December.

Hueth said his first priority is to finish building First Federal's management team and then continue work converting the institution from a state-charted mutual savings bank to a stock-based public corporation.

The conversion process has not moved forward since December, when Levon Mathews, the former president-CEO, abruptly resigned, Hueth said Friday.

Hueth, 50, had served as the bank's chief financial officer/chief operating officer/chief risk operating officer before being appointed by the board as interim president-CEO on Dec. 19 after Mathews' resignation.

Mathews later told the Peninsula Daily News that he had quit for personal reasons connected with a family business in Indiana.

Hueth, a California native, and his wife, Cynthia, live in Sequim.

“The board of directors is pleased to have selected Mr. Hueth to lead the bank,” board Chairman Richard Kott said in a statement.

“Mr. Hueth is developing a cohesive management team to meet the financial needs and expectations of our customers.”

Hueth said he is looking forward to working with the board of directors and continuing to focus on First Federal's community-based banking.

“We're firmly committed to the Olympic Peninsula, Clallam and Jefferson counties,” Hueth said.

First Federal is the only locally owned community bank on the Peninsula.

The bank, he noted, recently launched an application for smartphones that allows customers to take pictures of checks and deposit them remotely into their bank accounts.

First Federal is looking to fill two positions on the bank's management team, a chief credit officer and a chief banking officer.

The chief credit officer spot is being held on a temporary basis by Karen McCormick, who came out of retirement. She had been First Federal's president-CEO for almost 13 years before being succeeded by Mathews in September 2009.

Hueth said the timing of the conversion process starting up again is “dependent on when these [two] positions are filled. It's tough to give you a ballpark [estimate].”

Hueth has filled two other positions, naming Regina M. Woods as the savings bank's chief financial officer and Ed Brady as chief risk officer. (See box.)

Plans by First Federal to convert to a shareholder company were announced by Mathews and Kott in May 2012 and follow a national trend in which mutuals like First Federal have converted to stock ownership to raise millions of dollars in new capital.

Common stock would be sold first to First Federal's depositors and then, if shares are still available, to the general public.

The plans have been under review by state and federal bank regulators and will need to be presented to the bank's depositors.

The bank has about $77 million in capital on hand, Hueth said, and plans to raise more through the conversion.

The additional capital will be used, in part, to allow the bank to grow and in turn grow more jobs in the local community, Hueth said.

First Federal, which celebrated its 90th birthday in March, is headquartered in Port Angeles and has Peninsula branches there and in Sequim, Forks and Port Townsend and in the Kitsap County city of Poulsbo.

The bank also has a lending center in Bellingham in Whatcom County.

Its total assets have grown from $388.6 million in 1996 to $716.6 million in 2009 to about $781.8 million as of Sept. 30, 2012.

It is the state's 18th largest bank, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Hueth said the bank has more than 170 employees and estimated that First Federal contributes $12 million to $13 million into communities in Clallam and Jefferson counties in payments to vendors, community support and payroll.

Outside of getting the chance to interact with customers more as the president-CEO, Hueth said, his favorite part of working at First Federal is his co-workers.

“When you enjoy the people you work with, that's what keeps you coming back,” Hueth said.

________

Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 06. 2013 6:13PM
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