Blazing a Trail as a ‘Bankerpreneur’

By Monica C. Meinert

It’s clear from the moment you meet him that Trey Maust is the hands-on type. He freely admits that he’s obsessed with understanding how things work, and prefers to be the one in the driver’s seat working the controls.

In his spare time, Maust is an avid road-course racer and a student of Brazilian jiu-jitsu—two activities that require laser-focus, discipline and a willingness to take calculated risks. And he’s brought all of these qualities to bear throughout his career: from his early days of working on Wall Street M&A, to the founding of Lewis & Clark Bank (where he serves as co-president and CEO), and now as chairman of ABA’s Community Bankers Council.

Livestock and life lessons

Growing up, Maust had no idea that his career path would ultimately lead him to banking. His childhood was spent on a hog farm—the largest in the state of Oregon. His father—a former teacher and Marine Corps officer—ran the farm after serving in Vietnam, and from him, Maust learned valuable lessons about leadership.

“He was very much a people person,” Maust says of his father. “He was passionate about leadership, and he had this incredible ability to connect with others. People wanted to follow him because he cared so much about everybody, almost to a fault. So to me, that was a model in how both to inspire and listen to people.”

With a knack for math and a keen interest in technology, Maust originally set his sights on being a surgeon. He was accepted to Cornell University as a pre-med student, but quickly found that “none of the classes resonated with me. Not one.”

While still enrolled at Cornell, he began taking classes in finance and economics through Portland State University. “The subject matter just came naturally to me,” he says. “So then I had to figure out what you did with something like that.” Maust left Cornell soon after that, transferring back home to study business at Portland State full-time. His first job after graduation was as an auditor at Deloitte, working on accounts for U.S. Bancorp and several community banks, as well as the high-tech manufacturing industry. Eventually, his career with Deloitte took him to New York City to work in mergers and acquisitions.

It was also through Deloitte that Maust met his wife, Betsy. The pair started at the company on the same day on opposite sides of the country—with Trey in Portland and Betsy, a life-long Pennsylvanian, in Philadelphia (though they didn’t meet until four years later at a company training in Scottsdale, Ariz.). They have been married for 17 years and have two sons: Haydn, 15, and Andrew, 11.

Trey Maust and family

In 2004, Maust’s father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the family relocated to Oregon. A friend referred him for a CFO position at a Portland-area bank where he worked for almost two years—his first real foray into full-time banking.

It was there that Maust met Jeff Sumpter, the bank’s chief lending officer, and the two decided to strike out on their own and start a bank.

“When I was working in New York, I had this itch to own or run or turn around a company, or build one,” Maust says. “But the opportunity had never really presented itself.” In Sumpter, though, Maust found a strong business partner who could handle the business development and credit administration arm of the bank. “And so I put together the business plan, the financial model and decided, okay, we can do this.”

Becoming a ‘bankerpreneur’

Over the next two years, Maust and Sumpter began putting the pieces together: talking with attorneys, pulling together a team of directors and employees and raising capital. “The two of us funded the seed capital, all of it,” Maust says. “And then we invested considerably more during the capital raise. So we were 100 percent committed.”

Lewis & Clark Bank opened its doors in December 2006, and had a very successful first two years.

And then came the recession.

“October 2008 was rough for everybody. You didn’t know where the bottom was—it just kept getting worse,” Maust recalls. He credits Sumpter for his careful management of the bank’s lending portfolio and underwriting discipline, noting that “we were positioned with the right borrowers,” and were ultimately able to weather the economic storm.

Today, Lewis & Clark Bank serves the Portland metropolitan area and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Its core focus is small business lending, and Maust says that going through the experience of starting their own business has given his team valuable insights into the challenges their customers face. In fact, the concept of being “bankerpreneurs” was one that Maust and his team quickly embraced—it’s become an integral part of the company’s DNA and is reflected in the bank’s branding.

“We are bankers who have built our own business, too. So we have a unique understanding of what it means to take a company from concept to reality and make it successful,” he explains. “I think anybody who has started a bank can attest to the fact that it is very similar to what other companies go through.”

Keeping the community bank tradition alive

A community banker now for more than a decade, Maust has been actively involved with the Oregon Bankers Association and currently sits on the board of Sheltered Harbor—an initiative led by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center to help ensure industry-wide resilience in the face of a cyberattack—where he has been instrumental in ensuring that community bankers have a seat at the table.

In 2011, Maust became involved with ABA’s Community Bankers Council, which he believes is an important avenue for bankers to network and share their successes and struggles. One of his major goals as CBC chairman is to ensure that community institutions are able to continue to thrive into the future and adapt to the rapid pace of change. “I want to see us cultivate an environment that enables community banks to choose their own destiny,” he says. “I’d like to see community bankers feel empowered to be innovative in thoughtfully and intentionally building out niche solutions for our marketplace in ways that large banks just can’t.”

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this article was published in the ABA Banking Journal’s January/February issue, Maust was named as the new CEO of Sheltered Harbor, an industry-wide cyber resiliency initiative. Read more about Sheltered Harbor here. Maust will remain with Lewis and Clark Bank as executive vice chairman and will continue his 2017-18 term as Community Bankers Council chairman.


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