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InterWest moves to Seattle

"InterWest Bancorp is getting a new address and a new name.President and CEO Patrick Fahey said InterWest will no longer be headquartered in Oak Harbor, where the company first got started as Island Savings and Loan more than 40 years ago. Headquarters are now in downtown Seattle.The banking corporation will also be renamed Pacific Northwest Bancorp in an effort to position itself as the region’s premier commercial bank.Fahey said the changes are largely cosmetic and will not affect either the jobs or the work that is done in Oak Harbor, either now or in the future. In fact, he said the changes and growth in the company will hopefully mean more jobs throughout the company.Fahey said he decided on the changes after consulting with banking industry experts and analysts. The company will be taken more seriously and will have a more appropriate image for a commercial bank if it is Seattle-based, he said.“I love Oak Harbor,” he said. “But it isn’t exactly the economic hub of the Northwest.”With the address change, the company will become the largest commercial bank headquartered in Seattle. Fahey said it will be in a perfect position to capitalize on the commercial banking niche that is unfilled in the Pacific Northwest.“We have a unique opportunity to create something that has not existed in the last 10 or more years,” he said. “We intend to be a locally-headquartered full-service commercial bank in the spirit of Rainier, Peoples, Old National Bank and others of a bygone era.” As for as the name change, Fahey said he wanted the company to have a name that suggests the company represents the region. “InterWest in a fine name, but it could be in Colorado,” he said.Fahey has overseen many changes at the company since his appointment as president and chief executive officer by the InterWest board of directors in April. At that time, he also replaced Oak Harbor resident Barney Beeksma as chairman of the board.Fahey started a commercial bank called Pacific Northwest in 1988. During a wave of bank acquisitions and aggressive growth in the 1990s, InterWest purchased Pacific Northwest in 1998, bringing Fahey into the company. Now, the Pacific Northwest office in Seattle is the new InterWest headquarters.From the helm, Fahey has succeeded in turning InterWest into Pacific Northwest in both name and function.Fahey converted InterWest and its subsidiaries — including Bank of Tukwila — into a single commercial bank in May. InterWest started out as a savings bank, but the move towards business banking opens up large new markets for the company. Along with the switch to commercial, the company started the complicated and expensive process of consolidating the operating systems of the company’s various banks.Fahey also shook up the company’s management, replacing several longstanding executives — including former CEO Steve Walden — with four new vice presidents who have commercial banking experience.The changes have come with a cost. In the quarter ending June 30, InterWest reported a loss of $6.1 million.InterWest has $2.8 billion in assets and operates 55 branches throughout the state. The new Pacific Northwest Bancorp will become the largest commercial bank out of Seattle, but Fahey said it will still be “a dot on the landscape” compared to national banks like Washington Mutual, which is worth $200 billion.The company’s name and address change is not complete until it files with government regulatory agencies and receives final approval. "

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