Fastest growing Business of the year – More than ten years

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt
Lisa Lowe, Managing Partner
Revenue increased about 129 percent in 2005, added three attorneys

Law firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is expanding its Vancouver office, and at the same time the office is rooting itself deeper into the community. Even with a large office in Portland, the firm is finding the need to grow its staff in Southwest Washington to meet increasing demand.

In 2005, Schwabe grew from the equivalent of five full-time employees to 11. The jump in staff led to the company’s move to the Vancouvercenter building in downtown Vancouver, which nearly doubled its space to 6,437 square feet.

Schwabe’s revenue increased about 129 percent in 2005, reflecting significant growth in business handled by the office. The personnel added to handle the load include Kelly Walsh, commercial litigation and construction law; Donald Russo, commercial real estate law; Carol McCaulley, labor and employment law.

Growth in the real estate and construction markets and the increase of the number of businesses in the area are factors contributing to demand for the firm’s services.

“We needed to broaden our base to provide more complete services to our clients here without referring work to our Portland office,” said Lisa Lowe, partner and manager of the Vancouver office.

Lowe points out that the office’s 12 employees all live in Clark County, demonstrating the firm’s commitment to the area.

“It’s important that we live here and … are a part of what’s happening,” said Lowe.

Lowe, who has been with Schwabe since 1992, said the firm looks for people committed to the community and encourages their employees to be involved.

Schwabe expects the investments made in 2005 will allow the firm to continue to grow. Lowe said the firm’s current clerk is expected to become a lawyer with the firm soon, and a new clerk coming on this summer will have a similar opportunity.

NAI/Norris, Beggs & Simpson

NAI/Norris, Beggs & Simpson
Roger Qualman, Executive Vice President
Total brokerage side transactions grew 33 percent to $74.8M

NAI/Norris, Beggs & Simpson’s Vancouver office celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. The real estate firm opened its Vancouver office in 1985 with two partners and three employees. In 2005, the office grew by three employees to 15. Business was brisk for the company last year, with revenue jumping about 40 percent.

Total transactions on the brokerage side grew 33 percent to $74.8 million and the company’s property management team grew the value of its portfolio to $66.6 million, up 17 percent.

Executive Vice President Roger Qualman said several factors contributed to the company’s growth.

The sale of existing income-producing properties makes up a large potion of Norris, Beggs & Simpson’s business.
“The investment property business was on fire from beginning to end,” said Qualman.

The firm also has a big position in the office leasing market, where there was a big resurgence in 2005, he said. In particular, the company leased 40 percent of Vancouvercenter’s office space to six tenants, bringing the downtown building’s occupancy up to 60 percent.

Low interest rates continued to pump money into the business, said Qualman, as those who were typically tenants became buyers.

Qualman credited the company’s local ownership and highly-skilled employees for its ability to take advantage of market conditions and remain entrepreneurial.

“We pride ourselves on being nimble and able to change directions,” he said. “Our employees are highly trained to serve the same markets differently.”

Investments made in technology in the past several years are beginning to show their benefits, allowing the company to do things “faster and better.”

While Qualman expects 2006 to be a good year with some growth, the ability to sustain 2005’s growth can only be done with great difficulty, he said.

Going forward, Norris, Beggs & Simpson expects to expand its property management and real estate financing businesses.

Riverview Community Bank

Riverview Community Bank
Patrick Sheaffer, Chairman and CEO
Revenue grew 33 percent to $38M

Riverview Bancorp, parent of Riverview Community Bank, had success on many fronts in 2005. The publicly-traded Vancouver company entered the Portland market through acquisition and continued to grow organically in Clark County.

In calendar-year 2005, Riverview posted revenues of $38 million, up 33 percent from the previous year. Net income was up 38 percent to $8.8 million. In the first nine months of the company’s fiscal 2006, ended Dec. 31, 2005, loans increased 50 percent to $600 million and deposits were up 38 percent to $592 million.

Bank President and COO Ron Wysaske said 2005 results are “certainly a reflection of hard work on our part, but also the great economy and growth in Clark County.”

The bank also boosted employee numbers from 203 to 251 during the year.

Much of the growth can be attributed to the completion of the acquisition of Portland-based American Pacific Bank in April 2005 in a deal valued at $34.4 million. The purchase gave Riverview three branches and its first locations in Oregon.

“We experienced good growth throughout the year in loans and deposits irrespective of the Oregon acquisition,” he said.

At the end of the year, Riverview added an operations center and new branch in East Vancouver. The 50,000-square-foot operations center combined many of the bank’s support teams under one roof. Wysaske said the facility will allow the bank to grow its support teams more efficiently. And Riverview’s new location in the Columbia Tech Center brought its total number of branches to 17. The bank has 10 full-service branches and two lending centers in Clark County.

Wysaske said Riverview continues to look for additional growth opportunities, including through acquisition, in the region.

“We are not done in Clark County,” said Wysaske. “There is room for more.”

He said the bank will look at neighborhoods it does not have a presence in. Riverview will also look to expand further in the Portland market.

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