Listed year over year as one of the best banks to work for by Seattle Business Magazine, Olympia Federal Savings (OlyFed), Olympia, Wash., has long had a reputation as an outstanding employer in Washington. Lori Drummond, president, and CEO of Washington’s Olympia Federal Savings Bank talks about the bank’s team and what keeps them in place in an increasingly competitive environment. Listed year over year as one of the best banks to work for by Seattle Business Magazine, Olympia Federal Savings (OlyFed), Olympia, Wash., has long had a reputation as an outstanding employer in Washington. One thing that speaks louder than any award, however, is the “longevity phenomenon” of OlyFed. Of the $581 million bank’s 107 employees, 30 have been at the bank for more than ten years, nine of whom have been at the bank for more than 30 years. (It also boasts only having seven presidents over its 110-year history.) The Northwest Weekly recently spoke with three longtime employees of the bank for a three-part series to get a closer look at the bank’s team and what keeps them in place in an increasingly competitive environment for talented bankers. Lori Drummond, president, and CEO of OlyFed tells her story here.
Q: Tell me about your background. How did you land at OlyFed?
A: Lori Drummond: I moved with my family to a great neighborhood in the heart of Olympia in 1977. I went on to attend Washington State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration in the summer of 1982. After graduating, I went on to work for Gordon’s Jewelry Company as a diamond consultant. In the fall of 1983, I was asked to make a move to Houston, Texas. Wanting to stay in the area near family and friends, I decided not to accept the offer and started a job search. In 1984 I applied for a receptionist position at Olympia Federal. As a college graduate, I was not excited to start as a receptionist, but my father told me I should feel lucky to land any job at OlyFed and encouraged me to work hard, always do my best and take every opportunity to learn. I accepted the position and took his advice. After nine months, I was promoted to an administrative/marketing position and went on to head the marketing area. In 1991 I was promoted to manage branch administration. In 2008 I was offered the position of president/CEO. My father was right! I have been so fortunate to work for and learn from great mentors and role models at OlyFed over the last 33 years.
Q: How would you describe a “day in the life” at OlyFed?
A: Lori Drummond: Every day is different; I thrive on the variety. An employee once asked me if I ever dread coming in to work. I can honestly say that I am excited to come into work every day. I get to meet and serve customers, employees, and community groups. My days also include discussions on the changing banking environment and strategizing on our competitive advantages.
Q: A true test of a company is not necessarily when things are good, but when things become challenging. Do you have an example of a time when OlyFed rose to the challenge?
A: Lori Drummond: The Great Recession was a challenging time for our industry. We were fortunate to be very financially strong and weathered the storm well. Employees were hit hard with their investments in their 401k (retirement plans). At this low point, OlyFed stepped up and made a special contribution to every employee’s 401k plan to help jumpstart their retirement savings. This was in addition to the already generous match and annual contribution we already received. That our board approved my recommendation to do this special contribution made me so proud and reaffirmed that OlyFed is a great employer that cares about each employee’s success not just at work, but in life.
Q: Community banks like OlyFed are increasingly merging into larger banks. How do you think OlyFed positions itself to stay competitive for the coming years?
A: Lori Drummond: We are a mutual savings bank, not a stock company. This means we are truly independent and in control of our future. We have positioned ourselves to take care of our customers throughout their lifecycle. We offer a diversified product line and live our commitment to provide a high level of personal service while keeping on top of the newest technology. We invest in our employees so they can exceed their career goals. We do the right thing for our customers and do not take any unnecessary risks to boost profitability in the short run. I think our value to our communities continues to grow as other banks acquire, merge, or leave our markets.