July 22, 2014

Growing by knowing

“Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  And a community bank that’s closer to the people can be bigger and more capable than one imagines.

Just ask Gary Rappaport.  The retail real estate firm he founded thirty years ago, The Rappaport Companies, has grown into one of the largest owners and managers of shopping centers in the Mid-Atlantic.

That kind of growth, in that business, takes big financing.  So, even though we’d known Gary for decades, we realized he probably thought his business had outgrown the capabilities of a local bank like ours.

Then, a few years ago, he called us.  He owned an older shopping center in serious need of redevelopment in order to reposition it to be more productive.

But the place was so—let’s say “challenging”—that none of his usual big-name bankers would consider refinancing it.

But we would.  Because we know the Greater Washington market.  We know where and when it makes sense to invest, and we could see beyond the shopping center’s problems to its potential.  And we know Gary.  So we sat down with Gary and a blank sheet of paper.

“EagleBank works with people, not numbers on paper,” Gary said later.  “They understood our vision and wanted to help us achieve it.”

Together, we came up with a creative approach to his refinancing situation—one that involved dollar amounts that Gary had thought were beyond us.

And suddenly, by enabling him to realize his plans for that center, Gary saw our community bank in a new light.  First, we had shown that we’d grown big enough to do big deals just like the national and regional banks could do.

Second, and more important, we had proven that we could do deals the big banks wouldn’t do.  Precisely because we’re a community bank—with intimate local knowledge and banking expertise, combined with an entrepreneur’s agility and a belief in our borrower.  Which are the very qualities that have fueled our steady growth these last sixteen years.

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