Past, present and future
It started small
Nestled halfway between the Willamette Valley and the California border is Canyonville, Oregon, a timber town founded by pioneers who saw opportunity on the banks of the South Umpqua River. Through generations of hard work, the community built what they needed: a school, a church, a grocery store, a diner, an auto shop. And when the citizens of Canyonville needed a better place than the local watering hole to cash their checks, they came together and built a bank.
On November 14, 1953, South Umpqua State Bank opened its doors with just six employees and a single branch housed in the Canyonville Masonic Lodge. Everyone pitched in, from sorting checks to taking out the trash. Loans were made based on a person’s character and were sealed with a handshake. It’s how Umpqua’s founders believed business should be done, and (with the addition of a bit more paperwork) it’s at the heart of how we do business today.
What’s in a name?
We get more than a few questions about our name — most often “how do you pronounce it?” Here’s a tip: It’s “ump” as in “umpire”, and “qua” as in “aqua.”
We share the Umpqua name with a river, a valley and a national forest, as well as with several indigenous tribes who shaped the spirit of the Southern Oregon region for thousands of years. Our name is a tie to our roots, and through it, we’re proud to pay tribute to our rich heritage.
Leading for growth
In the four decades that followed our founding, our neighborly principles and community-first practices led to slow and steady growth. By 1994, we had expanded into six locations, but a rapidly changing banking industry was proving a challenge for small-town banks.
Fortunately, the same folks who recognized the need to build Umpqua recognized the need to adapt. They brought in Ray Davis, a maverick banker from Atlanta, Georgia. His mission: to stay true to our roots of service and support while redefining what a bank could be for its customers and community.
With the help of a talented (and growing) team of associates at his side, Ray did just that — and would continue to drive Umpqua’s innovation and growth for 22 years.
Creating a community hub
At the top of our list when it came to redefining banking was the bank environment itself. Inspired by world-class retailers and stellar customer service providers, our West Roseburg, Oregon location opened in 1996, and showcased an experience that put the customer front and center.
There was a computer cafe with free internet access, a customer phone with a direct line to the desk of the CEO, and our own custom blend of locally roasted coffee. We called this new location a store (not a branch) and opened it up to our community as a space they could call their own. Soon, customers and community members alike were hosting events in our store, and to this day you can find business meetings, book clubs and even yoga classes happening inside your neighborhood Umpqua Bank.
A culture of empowerment
To fully support our new stores (and our new customers), we shook up traditional banking roles. In lieu of a teller and a team of more specialized bankers, we created the Universal Associate, an empowered expert who can handle most customer concerns on the spot, no hand-off required.
This principle of empowerment enables each and every associate to do great things for our customers and our community. For example, when a wedding venue burned down next to our Vancouver, Washington store, associates didn’t wait to ask for permission — they hosted the wedding themselves in-store, hanging decorations, arranging flowers and serving customers through the whole ceremony!
In ways big and small, we go the extra mile for our community, taking our principles beyond the walls of our store and out into the world.
Forging a connection
Our new vision of banking fueled a period of unprecedented growth, and with it came new ways to express and expand our community outreach.
In 2004, we launched our Connect Volunteer Network, which gives every associate up to 40 hours of paid time each year to volunteer with youth and community development organizations. We believe education and infrastructure are critical to the future health and growth of our communities, and we’ve donated more than 400,000 hours of service to date!
That same year we also sent our very first ice cream truck to community events up and down the West Coast. We love delighting our customers in small, surprising ways, and our fleet of ice cream trucks (now five strong) is one of our favorites. Keep an eye out for us at your next community event!
Never stop growing
Today we have over 300 locations across the West and new leadership from CEO Cort O’Haver, who carries on our legacy of supporting our customers and communities every day.
Our Local Spotlight program invites small businesses to sell their goods in select stores, and we pass along all the proceeds. Our podcast “Open Account” tackles America’s No. 1 source of stress through honest conversations about making, losing and living with money. And our stores continue to host community events, from neighborhood meetings to art openings.
We believe in the potential for greatness in each and every one of us, and everything we’ve done — and will do — is built to help us grow together. No matter where we’re going (and growing) as a bank, we’ll always stay true to our core ideals: Be a good neighbor, go the extra mile, and take care of our customers, our community and one another.
For more information contact:
David Sprague | 541.618.6733
220 E. 10th St. | Medford, OR 97501
Tammy Morgan | 541.245.7134
1211 E. McAndrews Rd. | Medford, OR 97504