Interview with FirstBank's Market President Roaring Fork Valley Dave Portman - Aspen Real Life

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Interview with FirstBank’s Market President Roaring Fork Valley Dave Portman

What do we look for in our sponsors? Business professionals who care deeply about family and building community.

FirstBank has been sponsoring Aspen Business Connect for over 3 years and is one of the nation’s largest privately held banks with a focus on “banking for good,” and they have been our sponsor for 4 years running. Dave Portman is FirstBank’s Roaring Fork Vally Market President. We are filled with gratitude and pride to have Dave and his team as a sponsor of Aspen Real Life and Aspen Business Connect.

Watch our “Real Profiles” interview with Dave and read the transcript below.

JILLIAN

Dave Portman is the Market President for FirstBank’s Roaring Fork Valley. He’s been a sponsor for our network for three years.

DAVE 

It’s been five years that I’ve been here in the valley as the president of our Roaring Fork Market. After sixteen years at FirstBank, I got the opportunity to come over here to serve our Roaring Fork Valley. Here in these small communities, our friends become family because we are away from our families. 

JILLIAN

Before I even met you Dave I had already heard about you, the word out in the street was “there’s this new family in town and you have to meet Dave, he’s such a great guy”…..and because of Simon Dogbe from Northwestern Mutual, he recommended we get in touch with each other and that’s how our relationship began with FirstBank becoming a Sponsor. So tell me about FirstBank and all of the community initiatives.

DAVE

Our mission at the bank is “Banking for Good”, doing what is right by our customers, and employees in our community. We want to serve our whole community, so we spend a lot of time focusing on ways we can support the Latino Community in the Valley; through Financial Literacy resources, and funding Organizations like Voces Unidas and the Savings Collaborative of Allabadichu. We rolled out a program called Empower All which is making financial resources available to all of our native languages.

Environmentally we had an initiative with our boom campaign, where for every customer that opened an account we planted five trees in various national forests throughout the state of Colorado, Arizona, and California where we serve. So we planted 100,000 trees in the last two years. We’re founding members of Tacaw, which is just a pillar of our Mid Valley Community. We’re official partners that sponsor Crown Mountain Park. We supported Colorado Extreme, a new hockey Program in the valley with a DEI initiative to make hockey affordable for everyone. We’ve donated over $225,000 a year for the last few years to an array of organizations in the community.

We opened our Basalt branch in April, our fourth branch in the valley. So now we are really part of a community from Glenwood, Carbondale, Basalt, and Aspen. We did a number of commutative initiatives around that. One of them was to capture the cube initiative on a weekly basis throughout the summer. During the summer, we hid a cube somewhere in the Basalt community, and the community members were encouraged to go out and find it. We supported the local businesses by giving away a prize of up to 600 dollars for each cube found. This was a good way to introduce folks to the bank and also a good way to support the business in the mid-valley.

We did just celebrate our 10th anniversary here in the Roaring Fork Valley but instead of celebrating with a big party, we’ll start seeing in the community these ten acts of goodness initiative. For each of our years, we’re going to do a different initiative each month for the next ten months, you’ll see things like, “giving where you live” or, our customers are going to be able to choose a number of donations that we’ll make throughout the year. We’re going to host animals at the animal adoption programs or some of the shelters that are branches and a number of different things, more fun to come around that. All focused around giving back to the community in different ways because we wouldn’t be here for10 years without them, all of the members of our community.

JILLIAN

That’s just fantastic! You know, I think that it’s one thing to see all that you have done and all you do for the surrounding area, but to talk to someone like me, where I could not have gotten to where I am at all without your support, it really makes such an impact on programs that are supporting communities. So I wanted to personally thank you for that. You have watched me grow and you’ve been there by my side advising and supporting me. And having you as a physical person, that’s very deeply invested in where this is going, has been also really helpful for me as a solo-owned business. So tell me about Colorado Gives Day and your contribution to that, you’ve raised so much money for that.

DAVE

We love Colorado Give day, it’s here this December again. This will be our 11th year. Last year here in the Roaring Fork Valley we raised $675,000 for 96 organizations. Which was amazing and since the Inception of Colorado gives day, it’s raised over $360 million for Colorado non-profit organizations. FirstBank has been honored to partner with Community First foundations that establish and activate around Colorado give day which is just another tool for all of the wonderful missions out there to go out and share their stories and raise dollars for their causes. It’s amazing how many new donors see organizations through Colorado Gives Day because their profiles around the work that they do are so accessible. We’re into our 11th year and we have seen a lot of activation through Mountain West Gives from here in the valley in November, the month leading up to Colorado Tuesday. We also see Give It Forward which is a campaign we run and we pick up a restaurant or grocery bill, or vet bills, etc. The soul purpose is to encourage folks in the community to pay it forward and make a donation to an organization of their choice, so we’ll see some fun activations like that.

We are Colorado-funded and largely Colorado, we are Colorado headquartered but we do have a presence down in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona and we also serve the Palm Desert Community in California. But we are statewide here in Colorado and we’ve been in various Mountain communities for almost 60 years. 

JILLIAN

What sets FirstBank apart from other banks?

DAVE

A couple of things, I think number one, we really take pride in taking care of our employees. So I think we have the best and the brightest. I think they’re committed to our mission of doing good, knowing each of our individual client’s needs and tailoring the resources that we make available, and discussing with them based on their needs. We’re in a really nice spot right now. We are still locally owned, we operate very much like a local community bank but as a larger organization. We have all of the digital technology resources that the national banks have. So we’re in the sweet spot of having the large bank resources but the small bank service and that really is a niche in our industry, not many are positioned that way; to be able to say that. Our employees don’t make any commissions for anything, and that’s because we don’t sell anything. We really get to know our clients and their needs and tailor our offerings to everybody individually, because we’re all different consumers or businesses. We all have different needs based on our place in life and what we’re looking to accomplish. Those are generally a few of the things that set us apart from other banks. From a business standpoint, I would just offer more FDA-preferred lenders, so that makes the process of opening, establishing, and growing your business just a little bit easier. We have the expertise and familiarity and all of those loan programs, whether it requires the SBA or not to take those next steps, but we have the knowledge and the resources and street mind process. We feature on our website efirstbankblog.com, a feature called Smart Sense and we have several resources on there just generally for business advice around managing cash flow and whatnot. I can’t emphasize enough, I think the relationship aspect of banking is essential. Much of the transactional pieces of banking that we can do on our mobile devices and things like that are wonderful for convenience. But when it comes down to growing and managing your business or purchasing your first home or whatever those big steps are in life, that is where the relationship with your banker, I think, is so important. Just like your financial advisor, your accountant, or your attorney, relationships are really important. 

JILLIAN

Do you want to mention the upcoming security forum?

DAVE

I would be happy to, I think it’s November 3rd from 10:00 to 11:30 and we’ve blasted the information out through all of the chambers in the Aspen Board review letters here. Our Treasury Management team puts together a great panel of both internal and external experts that educates in the Financial Arena. There’s also information on security space for organizations, how to protect your information, cyber security, what to look for, how to get ahead of it, and maybe some recommendations on just internal controls and procedures to make sure you’re protecting your business. It’s just amazing how many scams there are out there right now and many have probably heard of…..it’s really a good hour and a half for folks with different-sized organizations and it is open to anyone not just our clients. It’s really convenient to log into. 

JILLIAN

You know I really love looking through your endorsements on your LinkedIn profile and your skills are in customer service, financial analysis, management, public speaking, strategic planning, and investments in banking. Is marketing even on there?

DAVE

It’s one of the fun parts of the job. Financial expertise is the core of what we do, right? and so it’s essential to the work we do. I think the two more important pieces, one for us being new in this valley is; building our brands, and telling our story. Not everybody knows what we’re about and we do so much good, but it’s easy to talk about and it’s a part of the work that I really enjoy. I think so much of our business is trust. I love talking to people in the community, whether they have a banking needs or not. At some point, if there’s a need that we can help with, that’s great, if not we’re happy to be there as a resource anyway.

JILLIAN

How wonderful that you’re sponsoring my organization that can broadcast that message everywhere and markets it for you as well.

DAVE

Yeah, absolutely and you know we’re honored to be a sponsor for Aspen Business Connect, the network is so powerful and I love hearing of the collaborations. It’s almost like a fraternity, right, we’re business owners that do support each other and bounce ideas off of each other, and the success of one, I think others take pride in. So I think you’re building something really powerful for entrepreneurs in the community.

JILLIAN

Yeah, thank you, I’m constantly hearing about these important relationships. Just the other night we went to that Market Street block party and someone came to the party and there was Katherine LeGrand. So I said, “she’s a member” and I said “this person is also a member you two need to meet,” immediately they formed a collaboration that I never would have thought of putting together because they are two completely different entities in their business. A bell should ring every time that happens. It happens so often, whether there are four people in the coffee shop or 25 people at one of our networking events. It’s incredible how when you go in with that mindset of like you said; “I’m here too, I’m curious about you and who you are and how can I help you”. It’s this beautiful ecosystem of support that I’m part of, underneath your umbrella of giving to the community. So thank you, David, thank you for coming on today, I really enjoy always getting together with you.

DAVE

Yeah, it is always enjoyable and you know I love connecting with more and more people in sharing what we’re all about. So thanks for the opportunity.

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