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Bay Bank: Built by Entrepreneurs, for Entrepreneurs

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When Sunil and Deepak Shrestha, owners of an IHOP franchise in Catonsville, decided to build in a new location, they approached Bay Bank. Headquartered in Columbia and overseeing a network of 11 branches located throughout the region, Bay Bank now has total assets of around $633 million. Positioned as the bank “built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs,” it prides itself on building and nurturing relationships with local businessfolks.

“Bay Bank listened to our plan for building a new location,” said Sunil Shrestha. “They were quite responsive, knowledgeable, and worked quickly to approve the loan for our newest restaurant.” The $2.31 million solution from Bay Bank included funding to buy the land and build the restaurant, as well as an equipment line for the Shresthas to easily make purchases to outfit the interior.

Entrepreneurial From the Inside Out

Working for the bank itself tends to feel entrepreneurial, said Rich Ohnmacht, a senior vice president and corridor market president for Bay Bank. After nearly two decades of working for banks of various sizes, Ohnmacht finds he enjoys the ability to have a definite influence over decision-making, as well as the agility to quickly get the right people from the organization in front of the customers that need them. The result is a quicker, better solution for the client.

At Bay Bank, as each relationship manager — which is how Ohnmacht describes his own job — builds his or her book of business, s/he is encouraged to take an entrepreneurial approach. Bay Bank has grown to just more than 130 employees since it began in 2010, but no matter how big the bank gets, that’s an approach and a culture that will never change.

“It’s a meritocracy,” said Ohnmacht. “We’re not very hierarchical, and we’re trying to move fast, be small, be nimble. If any associate has an idea, we want to get to it quickly, whether it’s a better way to do something or a new line of business we should be considering.”

The entrepreneurial approach supports Bay Bank’s established expertise at all levels. If a startup business is without the necessary credentials to get a loan, Ohnmacht still has a conversation with that business owner. “We talk about where we see their business going in the next year or two in terms of revenues, cash flow and probability.” And for more established prospects and clients, Bay Bank has been in their shoes. It understands what’s needed — experience, insight and flexibility — to grow a client’s business.

 

Strategic Industry Expansion

Bay Bank is growing, too, and with that growth comes some challenges. “The first six years of the bank’s life, Bay Bank focused on mergers,” said Ohnmacht. “The last two years, we’ve also been heavily focused on organic growth. Combining grassroots efforts with an entrepreneurial mentality allows Bay Bank to build the sales culture it needs to be successful.

“If you’re a community bank, you can’t do everything,” Ohnmacht said, “so we have tried to expand strategically within certain industries.” Areas of expansion include dental practices, manufacturing companies, government contractors and cyber. By targeting certain industries, Bay Bank can align its approach with clients that are a good fit. Manufacturing in particular is a high-growth area — Maryland manufacturers have added almost 5,000 positions since 2014, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Strategic growth includes strategic hiring. Bay Bank’s latest hire, Kyle Becraft, joined the company as senior vice president and director of mortgage banking in early May. Becraft has a track record of working with residential builders and will help to expand Bay Bank’s financing product array to serve land acquisition, development, construction, and construction to permanent mortgage solutions for builders and consumer clients.

 

Building Community

In addition to expanding its work in various sectors, Bay Bank is also growing its ties to the community through its involvement in local business and charitable organizations and volunteer efforts.

Through a corporate volunteer program, Bay Bank employees volunteer as a team for various nonprofits, including First Fruits Farm, the Maryland Food Bank and Junior Achievement. Employees are also given a set number of hours per quarter to use for paid volunteer time. Ohnmacht himself is active in local business organizations including the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and the Howard County Board to Promote Self-Sufficiency, as well as the BWI Partnership.

That kind of involvement is what defines Bay Bank as a true community bank. “As community ties grow stronger, so do ties between staff members,” said Ohnmacht. “In this way, a small bank can have a big impact.”