John Biggs, who drove growth at Luther Burbank Savings through its real estate loan business and later successfully navigated its public stock offering, said Monday he will retire as the bank’s president and chief executive officer on Jan. 2.

Biggs, 63, will be succeeded by Simone Lagomarsino, president and chief executive officer of the Western Bankers Association. At the beginning 2018, the California Bankers Association and Western Independent Bankers merged and Lagomarsino took her top job at the politically powerful group in Sacramento.

“I have been here 32 years. It’s a long time. I was CFO, COO and CEO. I wouldn’t been able to do all of this without the Trione ownership,” Biggs said in an interview. “It will be time for me to do some other things.”

Luther Savings Corp. is the owner of Luther Burbank Savings, a Santa Rosa-based bank that has carved a niche among affluent customers who appreciate the bank’s certificate of deposit interest rates higher than competitor financial institutions. The bank has used those deposits to make loans in the real estate sector, specifically in apartment housing. It has total assets of $6.7 billion as of Sept. 30.

Vic Trione, chairman of the board, and his brother, Mark, are the primary shareholders. A year ago, the banking company went public with a stock offering, but the Triones still control more than 50 percent of the outstanding stock.

“Under (Biggs’) leadership, we have seen the company’s assets and equity more than double, we have seen our market area grow to include all of the state of California and, more recently, Washington and Oregon, and we navigated a successful IPO (initial public offering),” Vic Trione said in a statement. “John was the driving force responsible for these accomplishments and has been instrumental in shaping Luther Burbank Corporation into what it is today.”

Founded in 1983, the bank took 17 years to reach $1 billion in assets. In recent years, it has seen it loan portfolio dramatically increase to $5.9 billion as of Sept. 30. Loan growth was boosted by a decision to enter the Seattle market in 2008, buoyed by the rapid growth of Amazon’s workforce that needed housing. In recent years, it has ventured more into home mortgages.

Biggs said he is “very bullish” on the future of the company — whose stock price rose 1 cent per share on Monday to $10.41, even though the regional real estate market appears to be cooling.

“Most of our competitors are in commercial banking. We are just in a sort of a different role,” Biggs said.

He will remain as a consultant through next year, though will step down from the company’s board of directors.

The leadership transition should go smoothly, Biggs said, noting that Lagomarsino previously worked in an executive position with Hawthorne Financial Corp. Like Luther Burbank, Hawthorne was a savings bank.

“One of her greatest strengths is that she knows our model very well,” Biggs said.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.