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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

California bank relocating HQ to North Texas; names executive for real estate

GTT or Gone to Texas was a familiar slogan in the 19th century and it seems to be happening again.

The latest example is a bank.

Irvine, California-based First Foundation Inc. (NASDAQ: FFWM), a financial services company with two wholly-owned operating subsidiaries, First Foundation Advisors and First Foundation Bank, on April 5 announced an expansion into Texas with the relocation of its principal executive office to Dallas.

The company will occupy space at The Crescent.

The move to Texas aligns with First Foundation’s strategic goals of expanding into major markets that present great opportunities for banking, trust, and wealth management, and with the expansion into its fourth state moves First Foundation into the regional bank category, according to a news release from the bank.

“The Dallas-Fort Worth area today reminds me of what Southern California was like 30 years ago, where First Foundation started, and for me personally, it is nice to return to Texas as my roots are in the South,” said Scott F. Kavanaugh, CEO of First Foundation Inc. “Texas has such a business-friendly environment which gives us confidence in being able to serve the communities of Dallas with our high standard of exceptional client care. This also is a natural expansion for our company and marks a milestone as we enter our fourth state and truly become a regional bank. We are excited about offering our services to more clients and building meaningful relationships with those who seek financial guidance from our team of dedicated professionals.”

One of its first key appointments in the region is Gary Woods, Executive Senior Vice President, Director of Commercial Real Estate Production, who will be in charge of the commercial real estate finance division in Texas, including the income property permanent and bridge loan financing. He will help First Foundation assemble a loan production team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as well as aid in the development of the credit administration team for the state. Woods has over 20 years of experience in the banking industry and most recently served as a Senior Vice President at BankFinancial. Prior to managing the debt placements for commercial real estate owners for BankFinancial, Woods served in a variety of leadership roles for commercial real estate lending institutions including roles as a Relationship Manager at Greystone & Co, Executive Vice President at A10 Capital, and Managing Director of GE Capital’s Commercial Real Estate Equity Investment Group.

In addition to its new principal executive offices at The Crescent, First Foundation Bank has plans to expand the company’s presence with a lending production office and a full-service branch by the end of 2021, according to the news release.  These plans could include opening a de novo branch or growing its branch presence via an acquisition, the bank said in the release.

First Foundation has a history of successfully expanding its footprint. Since 2012, it has grown its presence throughout the state of California, as well as opening branch offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Honolulu.

First Foundation will also add Dallas-Fort Worth to its corporate nonprofit giving initiative, Supporting Our Communities.

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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