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Summit State Bank CEO James Brush announces retirement

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James Brush announced Wednesday he will retire as chief executive officer and president of Summit State Bank of Santa Rosa in April, after four years at the helm of the small community bank.

Brush will be replaced by executive vice president and chief credit officer Brian Reed at the bank that has almost $700 million in assets and five local branches. In an interview, Brush said discussion of his retirement started in mid-2019. He previously had a 25-year career as a certified public accountant and retired at 51 from that profession.

“He championed the change in our business model to position the bank for growth. We are beginning to realize the benefits of realigning our infrastructure to support our future financial success,” Allan Hemphill, chairman of the bank’s board, said in a prepared statement.

In an era of consolidation and digital banking, Brush said he is proud of boosting the bank’s workforce from 65 to 100 employees. Most of the new hires live around the area and had worked at other community banks, he said.

While many banking services can be done online in the middle of the night, most customers still value the personal touch, he said. The bank has about 4,000 deposit clients and 800 loan clients, Brush said,

“It’s when they really need something, they reach out to you,” he said. “It’s not the technology people want, it’s the service.”

The bank also focused more on growing its loan portfolio under Brush’s tenure rather than focusing on securities. Net loans increased 14% last year to $576  million compared with 2018, and by 32% when compared with 2017.

“Today we are light on securities and heavy on loans,” said Brush, who will retain the seat on the bank’s board he’s held since 2009.

Reed joined Summit in late 2016 and has been a key figure in revamping the bank’s loan operations. He holds a master’s degree from the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona and an undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara. Michael Castlio will replace Reed as chief credit officer.

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