Published January 21, 2013
What’s in the future for Olympia Federal Savings?ROLF BOONE
Lori Drummond is president and chief executive of Olympia Federal Savings, a more-than-century-old financial institution that makes its home in downtown Olympia at the corner of Capitol Way and Fourth Avenue. Drummond, 54, has spent nearly 29 years at Olympia Federal – her 29th anniversary is next month – rising from receptionist to become president and chief executive in June 2008, about the time that the country’s financial health was set to unravel. Drummond said her focus then was to keep making the right decisions for Olympia Federal and to not try something new and different just because of the times. She also spent time addressing employee concerns about the state of the financial sector, as well as accepting a sudden spike in deposits as customers sought a “flight to quality” because of concerns about various banks. Olympia Federal’s assets have grown from less than $500 million when she started as president to $555 million today. We sat down with Drummond to ask her about the economy, the housing market and Olympia Federal’s plans for the former Schoenfeld building. Q: Olympia Federal Savings: What is it? A: We are a true savings and loan. Our focus is on lending to individuals who want to buy a house and we take in deposits and we lend those out to those who want to buy a house, and that’s the traditional thrift model. We don’t do business banking, so if someone wants to start a new business, that’s not our niche. We portfolio loans, so when we make a loan we keep it here, and that’s very different from many banks, which would sell them to the secondary market and not have that 30-year mortgage on the books. When we make a loan, we are really conservative in our underwriting and we get to know our borrower. Q: What’s your outlook for the residential real estate market this year? A: My sense is that things are improving. It’s not going to be a soaring year, but I think there is recovery, there is demand. We have a very significant pipeline – about $20 million in home loans – that are working through the process to be closed. So that’s a good sign. We are excited that things are improving. But again it’s going to be a slow recovery because people are still cautious. Q: How would you describe the typical Olympia Federal Savings’ borrower? A: The person next door. Someone looking to put down roots in the area. Community-minded, looking to raise a family. Q: Olympia Federal Savings purchased the former Schoenfeld Building at Fourth Avenue and Capitol Way in December 2009. What are your plans for that building? A: We have outgrown our main location downtown. One reason (we bought the building) was to expand and to provide more parking for customers and to lease space out. We are working on some designs and we are getting close to forming a committee of our board and management to vet through some ideas that we have been developing with our architects. I’m hopeful we will move forward on some of this in the next 12 to 15 months. We want to make sure it’s good for Olympia Federal Savings, the customers and good for the community. It’s a great opportunity to do something nice, so we’re not doing it without input. Q: What’s your outlook for the economy in general? A: I think it goes with housing and housing drives a recovery. There’s some optimism about the economy improving, but I think it’s another year of bumping along the bottom. But I feel positive and optimistic about it – just based on loan volume – and I’ve talked with people who say they are trying to get things going. I feel pretty good about it. Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 email@example.com theolympian.com/bizblog @rolf_booneOlympia Federal Savings Years in business: July marks its 107th anniversary. President and chief executive: Lori Drummond Number of branches: Seven Employees: 94 Type of financial institution: Savings and loan Asset size: $555 million Did you know? Olympia Federal is set to begin work on an eight-month remodeling of its West Olympia branch on Harrison Avenue. The branch plans to stay open during the remodel, which will double the size of the branch to 4,200 square feet.