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United Bank growth brings jobs to W.Va

By JIM ROSS

The State Journal

PARKERSBURG, W.Va.  — Richard Adams refers to United Bankshares as West Virginia’s largest company.

It’s one that is growing, especially in the market of Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia, but it has a presence in West Virginia’s growth markets, too.

In West Virginia, United Bankshares is known by its United Bank subsidiary. The most visible operation is the white, mirrored office tower in downtown Charleston.
(State Journal photo by Jim Ross)

In West Virginia, United Bankshares is known by its United Bank subsidiary. The most visible operation is the white, mirrored office tower in downtown Charleston.

United Bankshares also operates a bank in Virginia, which, like the one in West Virginia, is known as United Bank.

The Virginia operation has about $13 billion in assets compared to the $6 billion of the West Virginia operation, said Adams, CEO of United Bankshares.

United has 1,020 employees in West Virginia and 826 in Virginia, Adams said. In Charleston alone, it has 271 employees.

“When we bought all these banks (in Virginia), we brought jobs into West Virginia, because most of the support functions are centralized in West Virginia. For example, if you call the support center, you’re calling Charleston,” Adams said.

United Bank is not the largest bank in West Virginia. That designation goes to Wheeling-based WesBanco. But because of the Virginia-based operations, which includes George Mason Mortgage, United Bankshares as a whole is larger than WesBanco. So while one is the larger bank, the other is the larger banking company.

In West Virginia, United has 51 branches in 21 counties. Nearly a third of its branches are in the state’s three most populous counties. It has six branches in Monongalia County, five in Kanawha County and four in Berkeley County. It also has four branches in Wood County, where the bank’s parent company, United Bankshares, is located.

“We’re in the best markets in the state,” Adams said. “You take Morgantown for example. It’s a great, growing market.”

In the past year, from Sept. 30, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017, United Bank’s assets grew from $6.06 billion to $6.31 billion. Deposits increased by just short of $300 million to $4.95 billion.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., United Bank’s share of the deposit market in West Virginia increased from 9.95 percent in 2010 to 13.5 percent this year. It usually ranks second in market share to North Carolina-based BB&T.

United Bank’s office in downtown Charleston ranks second in the state in amount of money deposited there, at $924.5 million. It could become the second bank branch in the state to reach the $1 billion mark, which the BB&T branch in downtown Charleston reached this year.

“It’s all about sales and service. If you can’t do that, you’re not going to grow market share,” Adams said.

Sally Cline, president and CEO of the West Virginia Bankers Association and a former West Virginia banking commissioner, said United Bank has demonstrated itself to be a strong bank over the years.

“They’re a strong leader in the banking industry. They continue to grow and they do good things in their communities,” Cline said. “I’m proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish, and Richard’s a strong leader.”

Adams said the state and the state’s banking industry face some challenges, with many of them being in the energy sector.

“It’s coming back, but it’s hit the state pretty hard,” he said. “Our West Virginia (business) delinquencies are higher than they have been as a result of the challenges they’ve had in the energy sector. Things are better, but our customers have been affected by the downturn.”

Staff Writer Jim Ross can be reached at 304-395-3483 or email at [email protected]

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