Alta One officially acquires Mission Bank

Alta One officially acquires Mission BankBy LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

There are still regulators to please and ironing out converting data into the same software platform, but it looks like Mission Bank will officially become a part of Alta One Credit Union on May 2.

The timing was perfect when the Ridgecrest branch of Mission Bank reached out to Alta One Credit Union to see if they would want to buy the local branch. Alta One CEO Stephanie Sievers had been discussing expanding their business loan services and Mission Bank specializes in business lending. It is a win-win for both institutions and their members, customers and employees. Branch Manager and Vice President of Mission Bank, Solomon Rajaratnam looks forward to stepping into the role of Director of Business Lending for Alta One when the acquisition is complete.

“It just seemed like an opportunity that we could not say ‘no’ to,” says Sievers. “It would allow us to better serve Alta One itself. I felt like we did not do the best job that we could have during the pandemic. We didn’t offer PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans and I know that Mission Bank did, I know that Desert Valleys did and to have Alta One not also do that? I felt that it was an opportunity that we did not take advantage off to help all the communities that we’re in.

Having Solomon’s amazing team join us is beneficial for everybody, because we’re able to take the knowledge that Solomon and his team has and really help build out our business lending for Ridgecrest and for all of our other communities as well.

We are keeping all of the employess 100%. We love all of them.” Solomon adds, “All of the employees are excited to join Alta One. They’re looking forward to that.”

Solomon has many ideas of how to help the business community. Noting that he will need to receive management approval, he shares some of his wish list. “We want to start SBA loans. I have a boss and another boss so they need to agree with all my ideas. So once they agree, we want to bring construction loans. There is so much construction going on and nobody is doing construction loans in town. They have to go out of town and those people do not know what is happening here. They don’t know the base is spending 4.5 billion so if Alta One starts construction loans that would help the community a lot. Also with SBA loans, we will be able to reach out to startup businesses and for expansions of existing businesses. So that’s what really excites me.”

He adds, “ I would not have joined Alta One, frankly speaking, but for Stephanie. She has a passion. She has a vision, a new direction for Alta One. She has three master’s degrees and years of credit union experience; but the most important thing is the direction which she has for Alta One Credit Union. That direction attracted me to join the team.” He also appreciates that Alta One is local, “Having a local board, they know the community so that way I will be able to reach out to the community and meet their business requirements, so that we grow along with the community.”

In time the Mission Bank building on North Norma will be painted and signage will change. There will be a bit of remodeling in the interior. Their customers will get new debit and credit cards and all of the accoutrements of a bank/credit union account. Current Alta One members will have another convenient location in another part of town to use for their needs.

Sievers was born in San Antonio, Texas, but grew up all over the place because her father was in the Navy. The Navy did not bring her to Ridgecrest. Her previous position was in Austin, Texas. She brought her architect husband and four children to Ridgecrest in order to raise her family in our community. “Austin was great; but, I do have four children and they are a priority in my life. Ridgecrest is a great place to raise your children. I can just turn my children loose on their bicycles and you have these giant bike lanes and we’ve got these sidewalks and they can just hop on their bikes and go to their friend’s house. Austin has gotten really big with interstates everywhere. Your phone goes off all the time with Amber Alerts. I haven’t heard an Amber Alert since I got here. My children are number one. I think that this is a better environment to raise them.”

Sievers is humble in talking about her career, but her passion comes through loud and clear. “I do have three master’s degrees. My first one is in education. I love teaching and helping people. When you see a child and they get it, you’re like, ‘Oh, I made a difference.’ I get that same excitement out of working at a credit union. It’s the same idea; if I can help a family start saving better or making better financial decisions. I look at that the same as I change a life, right? If you can get them to start building savings and wealth building and generational wealth, you can make a difference. So I look at that as kind of the same thing. That’s why I love credit unions. We’re not for profit. And you know, our mission is to make a difference in the communities that we serve.”

In the works under her leadership is the development of an educational financial learning app. She points out that education pays little heed in preparing the population for financial management. A professional may have eight years of higher education and be the top in their field, but have no idea how to manage their money or set up their business finances. The free app would help youngsters get a start in preparing for independence and thriving. They plan to “gamify” it and make it fun.

A quick look at Sievers’ linkedin profile shows her experience as CEO at five credit unions since 2008, 26 honors and awards, community and volunteer involvement in numerous organizations, eight certifications in the financial industry, as well as her three masters degrees: Master of Science, Finance; Master of Business Administration; Master of Exercise Science.

Keep an eye out as she brings her passions and leadership together to benefit the community.

Laura Austin Photo: Alta One CEO Stephanie Sievers and Branch Manager and Vice President of Mission Bank, Solomon Rajaratnam agree it will be a win-win for both institutions and their members, customers and employees.

Story First Published: 2022-03-18