When Oregon Community Bank CEO and President Steve Peotter joined the organization in January 2011, the bank was struggling to recover from the Great Recession and low ratings it had received from national bank-rating agencies.

Now, six years later, the bank has been given a 5-Star rating by Bauer Financial, the same company that in 2010 gave OCB 2 Stars. That helped make Peotter the Small Company Executive of the Year 2017, named by InBusiness Magazine, based in Madison.

In recognizing Peotter, InBusiness cited OCB’s 18 percent growth in assets in 2016 and significant investments in new banking centers. The bank created a Mortgage Center at its Alpine Parkway location early last year and also established a new community bank facility in Waunakee in December.

Peotter told the Observer OCB has “more than quadrupled the size of its mortgage team” in the past year. The company also built a new 6,500-square-foot bank in Waunakee, which Peotter said was the result of discussions that began about three years ago.

“As we were seeing the recovery happening here in Oregon, we decided to expand into a different community, and we spent the last two years identifying which community that would be,” he explained. “We found Waunakee would match nicely with our capabilities as an organization. It seemed like a community that has strong schools and a strong sense of identity, and it’s one that we had already done a lot of business in.”

Peotter credited the company’s 18 percent growth in assets last year to the new mortgage department on Alpine Parkway.

“We did that with the belief that housing in this area was going be strong moving forward,” he said. “The housing market in Oregon is exceptional, and we’re very fortunate to play a part in that.”

The bank appears to be in much better financial condition than it was seven years ago, just before Peotter joined the company. OCB lost $2.9 million in 2009, causing bank-rating agencies to give it poor marks. The bank has reached an asset total between $260-$270 million, Peotter said, an all-time high for the company, which has 68 employees at its three locations.

“The ratings for the last two years show us as a Top 25 bank for both years, for banks of our size,” he said.

Peotter, 45, moved to Oregon with his wife, Kelly, and their three kids, Olivia (13), Ella (11) and Jack (7) in 2004. His wife is an Oregon native, and Peotter cited the Oregon School District as a key reason for living here.

Former President Jerry Luebke founded the bank in 1976 and hired Peotter after a long search for his successor. Peotter, an Appleton native and 1994 UW-Madison graduate, had previously served as vice president of community banking at Oak Bank in Fitchburg.

He said OCB experienced “stable, managed, predicted growth” between 2013-16, thanks in part to lots of new residential construction in Oregon. Strong economic indicators led his team to begin planning for the new mortgage department in 2013, as well as the new facility in Waunakee. The company also did a “relaunch” in 2013, Peotter said, which saw OCB adopt a new logo, image and drop the word “Trust” from its name.

“We are very optimistic people in that our bank believes there are good times ahead for all of us,” Peotter said. “So we added significantly to the number of individuals that are part of our organization, and many of those people are out there extending the invitation to new people to bank with us.”

Contact Bill Livick at bill.livick@wcinet.com