2015 Business Mavericks Panelist
Phil Sblendorio is a Senior Vice President and Regional Manager at Farmers & Merchants Bank (F&M Bank). A 34 year Banking veteran, Mr. Sblendorio has written numerous articles for commercial lending including 1031, 1031 Reverse Exchange, Financing, Lending & Notes. Mr. Sblendorio is considered part of the Legacy Team at Farmers & Merchants Bank which is still owned and managed by The Walker family after 107 (soon to be 108) years in business.
Why we believe F&M Bank represents the Business Maverick spirit:
Farmers & Merchants Bank was founded in Long Beach in 1907 by C.J. Walker. The story of C.J. Walker and the beginning of F&M Bank is quite incredible and carries the Maverick spirit — where big risk meets good business sense.
In 1907, the stock market was highly unstable and many banks were facing a possible run where fearful customers would pull out all of their deposits en masse which could devastate the bank and every one of its customers. At a time when all other banks were placing holds on withdrawals and making panicked customers wait to receive full payments, C.J. who was the president of the First National Bank in Long Beach decided to take a huge risk and leveraged the bank’s assets to back up their customers’ deposits in gold bullion. Putting the customers’ needs first, C.J. gained public confidence and kept the bank operating.
Witnessing first-hand how traumatic this experience had been for his loyal hard-working customers whom who he viewed the same as friends, C.J. realized that the directors of the bank based in L.A. did not share his same values. So C.J. went a step further and started Farmers & Merchants Bank with his partners who were of the same mind and philosophy as C.J. They started out small with C.J. even using his own savings to cover any losses, and they grew slowly and safely helping it earn its reputation as one of the strongest banks in California. Today, F&M Bank has over $6B in assets and 24 branches across Orange County, Long Beach and the South Bay. [Learn more about their history.]
Inspiration & Community:
It is rare for a bank to continue operation for more than one century. And it’s equally rare to keep ownership and management within a single family. The Walkers have demonstrated determination, leadership, vision and fortitude as F&M Bank continues to evolve.
As the company grew, so did the bank’s dedication to giving back to the community. In addition to supporting numerous organizations, including the YMCA/YWCA, local schools, religious denominations and various charities, F&M embodied the practice of patriotism over profit as it led an unrelenting effort to sell war bonds during the 1940s. Farmers & Merchants has a history of being deeply involved within the community and strives to maintain partnerships based on implicit trust and friendship.