New president focuses on business lending at Laurel bank
Cook joins Revere Bank with an eye toward growth
Having helped grow the assets of Mercantile Potomac Bank to $3.2 billion from $100 million in 12 years, Kenneth C. Cook plans to bring his small business-oriented model to his new job at a Laurel community bank.
Cook, 49, assumed the presidency of Revere Bank in June, with plans for taking the bank's $155 million in assets to $700 million by the end of 2014. So far this year, Revere Bank has seen a 25 percent increase in jobs over last year, bringing its total work force to 35 between its two branches in Laurel and Rockville.
"We're an employer that's growing," Cook said, adding that bank officials expect to have 100 employees by 2014. "We're providing capital in this region."
Cook is implementing the bank's primary focus of small-business lending.
"When they borrow, they intend on making a lot of money," he said, emphasizing that small businesses are often left in the lurch when they try to borrow from larger lenders. Cook said these larger banks control 60 percent of the deposits in the country.
If small businesses can't fit the larger lender's ideal profile, the answer is usually no, he said.
"We don't like that answer," Cook said. "If there's a deal, we're going to find it. We've built up a lot of trust and credibility among the community. If you're bending over backwards to help people, trust goes with that."
Revere Bank officials look beyond the financials when deciding how to help small businesses, often weighing the business owners' drive to succeed and figuring how to best meet that drive, Cook said.
The bank opened in November 2007, just as the Great Recession was poised to take hold of the country.
The new bank was "lending into this environment while other competitors were distracted with other issues," Cook said.
"We're hoping to continue building our team," he said. "The banking industry has stopped training people to lend to businesses, so we want to make sure our people have the necessary skills."
Andrew F. Flott, CEO of Revere Bank, described Cook as "one of the most highly respected bankers in the Greater Washington area."
"His breadth of experience is second to none, and his credit skills are impressive," Flott said. "The two of us have complementary skills. I am the salesman with the operational skills, and he's the salesman with the credit and business development skills."
Before joining Revere Bank, Cook was president and CEO of Mercantile Potomac Bank which was later acquired by PNC Financial Services Group from 1995 through 2007. When Cook joined Mercantile in 1989, it was about the same size as Revere Bank, with about $100 million in assets and five locations. He helped grow Mercantile to $3.2 billion in assets and 30 branches. Flott was Mercantile's CFO at the time.
"It was mostly organic growth," Cook said, describing the growth among his greatest accomplishments in the industry. "The community really supported us."
Prior to Mercantile, Cook worked at Provident Savings Bank's methods and systems department and then at First National Bank of Maryland now part of M&T Bank and Potomac Valley Bank.
"I've always enjoyed being in sales and helping people finance," he said.
Cook received his master's in business administration from Loyola College in Baltimore and his bachelor's in business administration from Towson University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He lives in Mount Airy with his wife, Julie, and two sons.
His next big goal at Revere Bank is to raise additional capital and open a Glen Burnie office, with plans for branches throughout Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard counties.
"Our intention is to grow quickly while making good loans," he said.