Banner Corp. names new president

Mark J. Grescovich will direct the bank and its parent company, while D. Michael Jones will continue as CEO.

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Banner Corp. has named a new president to lead the daily operations of the Walla Walla-based bank holding company and its subsidiary Banner Bank .

Mark J. Grescovich will direct the commercial bank and its parent company in an administrative changeover announced this morning and effectiveMark J. Grescovich immediately.

"Banner is committed to providing superior banking services to businesses and individuals in the Pacific Northwest," Grescovich said in the announcement. "I am excited to join and lead a team of professionals that delivers that commitment."

D. Michael Jones, who has served as chief executive officer and president of Banner Bank since February 2002, will remain on board as CEO. But the transition may foreshadow other changes, officials hinted this morning.

"For an orderly succession, now was a great opportunity," said Doug Bayne, vice president and director of marketing for Banner.

"Mark was available, and we took advantage."

He said the change is one that had been discussed for "a period of time." It comes a week after Banner announced a quarterly cash dividend of 1 cent per share.

"It's a very positive couple of announcements for a bank in the Pacific Northwest right now," Bayne said, referring to the rocky banking climate.

"Banner Bank is excited about the position we're in. We're excited about the future. We want to take advantage of the opportunities as they come along and continue to be the premier regional bank."

He said Grescovich will spend the coming weeks getting acquainted with the branches, employees and operations.

Since Jones has taken over as head of the operation, Banner has grown from a local operation into the state's third-largest bank holding company, with $4.7 billion in assets, 89 full-service branches and seven loan offices in 29 counties in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

As part of this morning's announcement, Jones said Grescovich "will most certainly be an asset to our management team as Banner continues to expand."

"His knowledge of banking, finance, credit administration and risk management is exceptional," Jones continued. " He brings with him a record of high-performance banking culture and results-driven profitability management. The board and management are excited about the expertise, energy and professionalism that Mark brings to our organization."

Grescovich, who will also join Banner's board of directors, comes to the area from Ohio. He formerly served as executive vice president and chief corporate banking officer for Akron-based FirstMerit Corp and FirstMerit Bank, a commercial bank with $11 billion in assets and 160 branches, according to this morning's announcement.

He joined the company in 1994, serving in various commercial and corporate banking positions until 2007 when he became responsible for FirstMerit's commercial and regional line of business. Under his leadership, the bank became of the six top rated U.S. financial institutions un 2008 and received the Greenwich Excellence Award for overall customer satisfaction in business banking.

Before FirstMerit, he was managing partner in corporate finance with Sequoia Financial Group Inc., also of Akron.

Grescovich has a bachelor's degree in finance from Miami University and a master of business administration in finance from the University of Akron.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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