Make us your home page

Banks hope consumers, businesses are ready for economic turnaround

Douglas Schneider answers quickly when asked if he and his business partner hesitated to expand in a recession.

"Absolutely," said Schneider, co-owner of Excalibur Manufacturing south of Brooksville. The company does custom injection molding for components in products ranging from sprinklers to mine sweepers.

But with the economic downturn came opportunity in the form of lower construction costs and shorter wait times for permits, so Schneider and partner Wade Thomas decided to go ahead with plans to expand their existing plant at the county's airport industrial park. They landed a business loan and just finished a 9,600-square-foot addition, doubling their space to make room for production machinery and storage.

"We got to the point where we said, if we're going to do it, now is the time," Schneider said. "The economy is going to improve. We're already starting to see signs."

Excalibur bucked a nationwide trend. Banks last year saw their biggest full-year decline in total loans outstanding in 67 years, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Banks saddled with troubled assets in the form of foreclosed properly and delinquent loans have been less willing to lend money. Consumers and businesses are buckled down in the face of high unemployment rates.

Hernando's jobless rate is hovering near 15 percent. Still, local bank officials say they have money to lend and are beginning to see at least some initial signs that consumers and businesses may be ready to do their part for a turnaround like Excalibur did.

"I see them talking about it. I don't see them doing anything," said Morris Porton, senior vice president of Florida Traditions Bank, which gave Excalibur its loan. "Most people are in savings mode."

Based in Dade City, Florida Traditions formed in 2007 and opened its first Hernando branch in 2008. That means the institution is not struggling under the weight of bad loans, Porton said.

Meanwhile, another local bank is looking to avert a crisis.

Cortez Community Bank, a 6-year-old operation headquartered in Brooksville and hit hard by delinquent commercial loans, announced last week a pending deal to sell a majority of its stock to a South Florida real estate and pension management firm. The sale would bring in about $15 million in capital, Cortez president Don Page said.

As developers struggled, other segments of the banking business dried up, too, Page said. Cortez got out of home equity loans because equity has all but disappeared and people who qualify to refinance are upside down. Auto dealers desperate to get customers onto lots started to offer zero percent financing, taking that business away, too.

"We're not making many loans," Page said.

The county's largest player in terms of market share has plenty of money to lend, said Jim Kimbrough, chief executive officer of SunTrust Bank/Nature Coast.

Kimbrough acknowledged that the current climate is the worst he's seen in 42 years in the industry. Credit requirements have been ratcheted up.

"We've always try to find a way to say yes, and we still do that," he said. "But with the regulatory pressure of the current economic times, it presents additional challenges for people in the banking industry."

During Hernando's recent boom years, the number of bank offices and deposit totals grew with the population.

In 2000, the county had 35 offices, and customers deposited $1.7 billion. Seven years later, those numbers had climbed to 43 and $2.9 billion, respectively.

Deposits started to decline in 2007, falling to $2.3 billion by last June. The number of bank branches decreased by two.

The banking landscape in Hernando has changed only slightly in recent years, though. SunTrust, Bank of America, Wachovia and Regions Bank still account for three-quarters of the total deposits in this market of 13 institutions, according to the FDIC.

Superior Bank has climbed a couple of notches to No. 5, boasting about 5 percent of the market share.

Officials with banks large and small say they still see Hernando as a growth market. They are eyeing key indicators such as real estate prices and the inventory of existing homes.

Recent figures show that the former is stabilizing and the latter is ready to move away from glut status, Porton said.

"Every day that goes by, in my mind, is a day closer to recovery."

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or

Bank market share

Bank June 2009 June 2008
SunTrust Bank 32.2%* 43.8%
Bank of America 21.4% 17.2%
Wachovia Bank 12.4% 12.2%
Regions Bank 10.1% 6.5%
Superior Bank 5.1% 3.5%
Branch Banking & Trust 4.9% 4.5%
Compass Bank 3.9% 4.0%
Cortez Community Bank 2.5% 2.1%
Morgan Chase (formerly WaMu) 2.5% 2.1
Brannen Bank 1.9% 1.7%
Capital City Bank 1.6% 1.2%
CenterState Bank 1.0% 1.2%
Florida Traditions Bank 0.37% 0.11%

* SunTrust officials say deposits have actually increased year over year, but due to an internal change in accounting, a large portion of the bank's Hernando deposits were credited to another market.

Related content:

Hernando County's job situation worse than statistics show

Bargains for buyers, but anxiety for builders in Hernando's housing market

Hernando County training and education classes help entrepreneurs and the unemployed

Hernando needs large-impact, high-wage, county business officials say

Lack of widespread broadband Internet service puts Hernando County at a disadvantage

Hernando's trend of opening big retail spots slows due to lack of bank lending, wary shoppers

Dust settles on mining operations in Hernando County

Banks hope consumers, businesses are ready for economic turnaround

Hospitals try to keep more patients in Hernando County

Hernando County Chamber of Commerce moving to new location at airport

Hernando County Airport offers alternative to Tampa, Orlando

Blueberries become multimillion industry in Hernando County

Hernando County Office of Business Development 2009 projects

(New or expanded businesses)

Project type of work # of Jobs
AME International tire-changing equipment manufacturer/distributor 5 jobs
Woodco Truss truss manufacturer 30 jobs
Airdyne aviation products 5 jobs
Neubert Aero aviation products 25 jobs
Air Center
fixed-based operator 20 jobs
Global Jet Care air ambulance services 20 jobs
Zymol car wax manufacturer/
10 jobs
Better Mix Plant cement manufacturer 10 jobs
Mejor Foods food product distributor 5 jobs
HETA technical training provider 4 jobs
HealthSouth Central Billing Center back office operations
billing center
5 jobs
plastic injection molding
Flagstone Pavers decorative paver
5 jobs
Accuform safety sign manufacturer 5 jobs
Chasco Machine precision machining 31 jobs
Sparton Electronics electronics manufacturer 175 jobs*

* Retained jobs

Source: Hernando County Office of Business Development

Related content:

Banks hope consumers, businesses are ready for economic turnaround 02/27/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 27, 2010 4:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  3. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  4. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark


    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors


    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]