South Florida Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Mel Meléndez recently spoke with Dan Sheehan, the Palm Beach Gardens-based president of Vista Bank, for the latest segment of the Florida Business Minds podcast.
Sponsored by TECO Peoples Gas, the audio series features candid conversations with top business leaders from the South Florida, Orlando, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville regions.
Sheehan, the co-founder and former CEO of Coral Gables-based Professional Bank, is the latest South Florida executive to share key insights on their sector.
The following is a brief excerpt from the conversation, edited for clarity and brevity:
Meléndez: You’re currently the president of Vista Bank, based in Palm Beach Gardens, which is the Dallas-based company’s first location outside of Texas. But many of our readers know you as the former CEO of Professional Bank. So, what led you to Vista Bank?
Sheehan: The management team at Visit Bank, and in particular its CEO, John Steinmetz, [who] has been a good friend for a number of years. And we were quite fond of what each of us were doing in our respective markets and were … on a parallel path … with somewhat of a similar strategy in Texas as to what we were doing in Florida. And so we had talked a number of times over the years about doing something together, whether merging the banks or doing something [else] together. So it was a natural evolution and occurrence … once the Professional Bank chapter ended.
Meléndez: Can you share a little bit about why Vista Bank chose to open its first Florida bank branch in Palm Beach County versus Broward or Miami-Dade counties?
Sheehan: Well, we’re going to serve all three counties from this first location. So, I don’t think it was particularly choosing one over the other. You know, … we’ve got more deposits here [in South Florida] than 37 or so of the states in the country. So only being 80, 90 miles away and having the track record of doing business here, doing business in Broward, doing business in Palm Beach County, it was a little bit less of a geographically sensitive decision whether or not to be up here or down there for the first branch. I will tell you that, over time, we will be doing business in Broward and elsewhere in the state, like we did at my former institution.
Meléndez: Vista Bank is often touted as the “Entrepreneur’s Bank.” And we have a lot of startups and small and midsize companies in South Florida. Can you talk about some of the services that Vista will provide here, and how they might differ from those offered by larger banks, if so?
Sheehan: Sure. I think I’m shooting a bit from the hip here, but I don’t think I’m too far off. But roughly 70% to 75% of all small-business credit offered to small business is provided by community banks. And most of these small-business owners fashion themselves and behave like entrepreneurs. And those are the folks that we typically resonate with. That’s the crowd we typically run with … but we do bank an awful lot with larger companies. And while we are smaller than a number of the national banks, I’d like to think that we punch above our weight class, in terms of our treasury management services and other tangential offerings that help the small-business owner which might get lost or slip through the cracks at some of the bigger banks.