Washington Trust names new CEO

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W.T.B. Financial Corporation, the holding company for Spokane-based Washington Trust Bank, has changed its leadership structure with four key transitions and promotions within the financial institution’s executive leadership team. 

Washington Trust has a branch in Kennewick. 

Peter Stanton, 67, the fourth generation of the Stanton family to lead the bank, will now serve exclusively as executive chairman. He had served as CEO and chairman of the board since 2000. 

Jack Heath, 63, is now the bank’s CEO and the first person outside of the Stanton family to lead the company in its 120-plus years in existence. Heath had served as president and chief operating officer of Washington Trust Bank since 2000. 

Stanton, who has worked in the family business for 43 years, said he looks forward to the transition and watching his team take the lead. 

“More than anything, it was an opportunity … to give everybody else an opportunity to show us what they can do,” Stanton said. “It’s time to let a newer, younger generation really manage the company and take us to the next level.”

Heath agreed and emphasized the importance and challenges that succession planning hold for any business to continue its legacy. 

“The most important thing for us is to establish the right team to be able to carry this tradition on,” Heath said. “One of the things that is really critical to us is our culture and the way we execute and the way we focus on our employees, our community, and our customers.”

Kevin Blair will now serve as the company’s president, and Jim Branson is now chief operating officer. 

Blair, formerly the senior vice president and chief lending officer, and Branson, formerly senior vice president and chief banking officer, have worked together at Washington Trust Bank for the past 20 years. 

Planning for this transition has taken about five years, Blair said. 

“I’m excited about it and happy that they (Heath and Stanton) are not going anywhere,” he said. “To have their leadership and guidance is important.”

Branson said he and Blair have built their relationship and trust over the last 20 years working together and in the recent years taken more leadership with the company. 

“To have (Heath and Stanton) helping us and guide us is a rare thing that most people when they get these jobs don’t get the opportunity to draw off the knowledge, expertise, wisdom, and experience that these two have,” Branson said. 

Stanton said Washington Trust Bank often hires from outside the company for key positions. However, for its leadership executive team, having a core group of people who have been with the bank for a long time preserves stability and the company’s culture. 

“We’re going to change, and we’re going to modernize, and we’re going to try new things,” Stanton said. “But we are also going to keep our core values of who we’ve been for a long time.” 

With total assets exceeding $11 billion, Washington Trust Bank is located at 717 W. Sprague Ave., in downtown Spokane, and has more than 40 branches in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. It employs 1,100 people and has a 25-person executive team. 

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