Kearny Federal Savings Bank’s reputation among seasoned commercial real estate investors and brokers throughout the Meadowlands and greater New Jersey market remains favorable, as evidenced by its remarkable growth in recent years.
An anchor in the community, Kearny Federal Savings Bank attributes its progress to aggressive prospecting, outstanding customer service and the ability to attract loans that meet and exceed high underwriting standards.
For almost 130 years, the federally chartered stock savings bank has grown steadily through conservative lending and deposit principles, a commitment to exceptional service, and creating opportunities. Since the Bank joined the NASDAQ Stock Exchange in 2005, it boasts assets of $2.9 billion.
“Commercial financing is an extension of our community engagement because it creates strong institutions, housing, jobs and other benefits that make communities prosper,” says John Mazur, chairman of the Board of Directors of Kearny MHC, Kearny Financial Corporation and Kearny Federal Savings Bank since January 2004. “We truly believe in giving back to the communities which made us so successful today.”
Under Mazur’s tenure on the board, the bank has gone from four to 41 branches in nine New Jersey counties. Much of the growth has been achieved through the bank’s four bank acquisitions over the past fifteen years, the most recent being Central Jersey Bank in 2010. Kearny has expanded its market share through aggressive marketing, maintaining its matured existing customer base while addressing the needs of a new generation of customers who look for service in nontraditional banking channels. The Bank has also grown through the expansion of services into commercial financing and C&I lending.
Traditionally, Kearny’s lending activity primarily consisted of the origination of one-to-four family residential mortgage loans. Strategic emphasis has since shifted toward more aggressive loan portfolio growth with higher transactional dollar volume, while maintaining high asset quality and good credit risk.
Kearny Federal Savings Bank, which employs approximately 500 people, has a staff of thirty people in the commercial lending department alone. The company’s business plan continues to call for increased origination of commercial mortgages, primarily secured by multi-family apartment buildings, but also mixed-use properties and nonresidential mortgage loans.
At the helm of new business development is Vincent Micco, second vice president and director of sales at Kearny Federal Savings Bank. Micco started in residential mortgages in 2005 and has been promoted to the highest sales position in the Bank, all while raising his family and serving as an army reservist, with two tours in Iraq. Customers note his personality and commitment are why they do business with Kearny. Micco credits the team culture that is focused on new business development for growing the Bank’s loan portfolio.
“My goal is to lead by example, constantly prospecting for new business relationships for the Bank, while providing outstanding customer service. I manage an outstanding, very capable team of commercial and residential loan officers and SBA Business Development Officers, who are constantly hunting for new business in order to grow our portfolio safely,” says Micco, or Vince, as all of his clients and most of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber know him.
Knowing the customer
Kearny Federal Savings Bank attributes much of its success to the relationships it has with clients. Micco and his team are known for learning about their clients’ businesses so they can better understand how to help them reach their objectives. In return, their clients get to know how Kearny operates and receive the highest efficiency and flexibility in borrowing for new acquisitions, renovations or recapturing capital investment.
Golden Sun Rentals, a developer and long-time customer, has worked with Kearny Federal in all facets of their customer service, starting small and growing as their financial service needs grew. Partners Michael Taramina and Steven Fortunato have worked with Kearny as borrowers and attorneys on all stages of loan applications and legal issues.
“At Kearny, they say what they’ll do and do what they say, and that’s what it’s all about,” says Mr. Taramina. “It all begins with lending. There’s a certainty to their lending process and their timing, which allows us to plan, capitalize on opportunities, and set all the parts in motion. We’ve built our business model on the financing we receive from Kearny. We know what we’re getting and it enables us to do more business.”
Golden Sun Rentals is eligible for grants, tax credits and government subsidies; however, the company often goes directly through Kearny because it works faster and more efficiently. Taramina recognizes that Kearny has not experienced the problems that come with expansion because they remain strong advocates of their customers.
“Banks and brokers are fighting for our business. Kearny understands us. We have such an efficient relationship with them built on trust, though positive experiences from repeat business. The more financing we receive, the more investment we do, the more work there is for laborers, property managers, plumbers, etc.”
Mr. Taramina estimates that they do twice as much work because of the financing they receive from Kearny and has referred them to business associates and family members.
“They are good for the region. With people like Vince, the Bank has gone further than I expected. You can’t even quantify what they’ve done for New Jersey,” he says.
Lou Reynolds, principal of Reynolds Asset Management, agrees that Kearny’s ability to understand the client leads to increased opportunities. Reynolds has purchased and renovated four apartment buildings in Northern New Jersey with financing from Kearny Federal Savings Bank. Although he is the principal owner, he works with other partners as co-owners to complete the acquisition and redevelopment of these often grand, yet previously mismanaged buildings.
“Vince believes in what I’m trying to do and works with us,” said Reynolds. “Kearny has gone out of its way to satisfy the specific requirements of some of my partners. Other banks won’t do that, they want the loan to be the loan. I’ve dealt with big and small banks. Kearny is by far the most reasonable. They have worked fairly with me on every one of my conditions. Where they couldn’t make an adjustment, they worked with us to find common ground. There’s not a single instance where they flat out told me no.”
Eric Seidel, an associate with Marcus & Millichap Capital Corporation, adds that the Bank understands the competition more than most.
“Kearny can help virtually anyone and is willing to do the deal. They stay current and competitive in the marketplace because they understand where their competitors are and where Kearny needs to be to win deals,” he says.
Marcus & Millichap is a nationally renowned, commercial real estate brokerage company. Their finance arm, named Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp. (MMCC) refers many multi-family and commercial mortgage opportunities to Kearny. MMCC is also a member of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber.
Commitment to the region
As a community bank, Kearny Federal Savings Bank can offer services and flexibility that the giant banks do not. All of the services are in New Jersey, which expedites approvals, applications and all the stages of the lending process. The Bank meets the highest standards of financial oversight, and is recognized by SNL Financial, the provider of real-time news and in-depth analysis affecting commercial lending and the real estate market.
Kearny’s commercial loan offerings also include secured and unsecured business loans, most of which are secured by real estate, but also include programs offered through the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) in which the Bank participates as a preferred lender. Many of Kearny’s SBA clients originate through the Bank’s membership in the Meadowlands Regional Chamber, as well as the small businesses that deposit in its branches.
Besides their involvement with Kearny Federal Savings Bank, Micco and Mazur are also board members of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber. Mazur is the president and chief executive officer of Elegant Desserts and formerly a partner at Mazur’s Bakery in Lyndhurst. Mazur also serves as chairman of the council of regents for Felician College.
Throughout the years, Micco has received numerous accolades from the Meadowlands Regional Chamber, where he has served on the board of directors, membership committee and MRC’s Young Professionals Network (now the Emerging Leaders’ Network). He also chaired the Ambassador’s Committee. In 2007, Vince was the recipient of the MRC’s Annual Leadership Award, now referred to as the Arline Simpson Award. He has facilitated more monthly membership meetings and business card exchanges than he can count.
“Everyone at the Meadowlands Regional Chamber is like family to me,” says Mr. Micco, who was the beneficiary of the Chamber’s Christmas Holiday Gift drive while deployed in Iraq, 2010-11. “I am involved because I know that building relationships is important for all our businesses to thrive.”
Pamela Tully is a freelance writer, editor and marketing professional. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org