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Like home, but with tellers

Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli

Umpqua Bank branches get a new look and feel, including a direct line to the company president

The displays of wheat, pine cones and river rock give it the look of a museum. The fireplace, magazine rack and comfortable chairs provide a homey feel.

The big-screen TV, Internet-ready computer and printer provide a consumer electronics touch.

Customers at the downtown Medford or Poplar Avenue branches of Umpqua Bank are seeing what many of the institution's customers have discovered elsewhere.

"We wanted to give it that organic look and feeling of nature symbolic of Oregon," says Lani Hayward, senior vice president and director of marketing for Umpqua Holdings.

The company began its makeover in 1995, but former Valley of the Rogue branches - which merged with South Umpqua Bank in 2000 - still looked like traditional branches.

"It used to be you'd see rows of desks; we've put them behind the walls," says Hayward. "Now you'll see a fishing theme (complete with Umpqua Bank-brand gear) on display and next week it might be a CD display."

A phone on the side of the wall provides several one-touch options, including a direct line to Umpqua Bank President Bill Haden.

"We've had visitors from all over the world at our banks and they've hit that button just to test us," Hayward says. "It really does ring to his office."

Umpqua's Ashland branch will soon unveil its new look, with offices along the south coast to follow.

"Anybody can make a pretty store," she says. "Other banks are starting to do that, Washington Mutual, for instance. That's 50 percent of the equation. The other 50 percent is your people. We revamped our culture back in 1994 and that's the difference. You can't have one without the other."

The completion of the remodeling projected coincided with parent company Umpqua Holdings Corp. announcing its first quarter earnings.

Umpqua reported income before merger-related expenses of $4.93 million for the quarter ending March 31, an increase of 35.2 percent over the previous quarter and an increase of 60 percent compared to the same period in 2001.

Umpqua's net income, after merger expenses, was $3.961 million, compared to a merger-impacted loss of $591,000.

Total combined assets were $1.437 billion, a 21.1 percent increase over first quarter 2001. The bank's deposits grew to $1.208 billion, an increase of 19.5 percent over the first quarter of 2001.

Diluted earnings per share before merger-related expenses for the first quarter are 24 cents, exceeding analyst estimates of 22 cents. That's an increase of 26.3 percent over the previous quarter and 50 percent ahead of a year ago.

The company achieved a significant increase in net interest margin to 5.66 percent up from 5.32 percent for the previous quarter and 5.06 percent a year earlier.

Umpqua's loan portfolio climbed $25 million to $1.041 billion in the quarter and was 34.6 percent ahead of the first quarter of 2001. Its non-performing loans and leases edged upwards to 0.45 percent in the first quarter from 0.33 percent.

The company reported merger-related expenses of $973,000 for the quarter and completed the operational integration of Independent Financial Network and Linn-Benton Bank, both of which were acquired by Umpqua Holdings in December 2001.

Pete Amaya, Umpqua Bank's senior vice president for community banking, said that deposits in Jackson and Josephine counties had increased 2 percent over the previous month.

Umpqua Bank associate Dixie Weyland demonstrates the Internet coffee bar set-up available to the bank's customers in Medford, part of the banking chain's new remodel.