Lawrence-based bank to be sold as part of approximately $140 million deal; Bank Midwest to begin operating in city
Another longtime Lawrence banking family is getting out of the business, and a large regional bank is set to take its place as part of an approximately $140 million deal. Peoples Bank, which is led by longtime Lawrence businessman Wint Winter Jr., has announced it will be bought by the banking group that operates Bank Midwest in the Kansas City metro area.
According to a release from the two banks, the deal is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter of this year. Upon completion, Peoples Banks in Lawrence and other parts of Kansas will change names to Bank Midwest.
Peoples operates three branches in Lawrence, but it has a larger local presence because Winter serves as chairman and CEO of the company and continues to be based out of Lawrence. Peoples bank near Sixth and Wakarusa is considered the corporate headquarters.
Winter, though, told me that job losses are not expected in Lawrence as part of the deal. He and other family members held most of the corporate positions within the family-owned bank, and he said there are no plans to close any of the Lawrence branches.
“There are not any overlapping branches,” Winter said of the deal between the two banks. “They don’t have anything in Lawrence, and they really want to be in Lawrence.”
The deal is a remarkable conclusion to a Lawrence family business. Winter’s grandfather, Ship Winter, made a name for himself in Lawrence as a rancher and the owner of the local Chevrolet dealership in the 1960s and 1970s. Winter’s father, Wint Winter Sr., was an attorney who bought a bank in Ottawa in 1972. That bank would become Peoples Bank. At that time it was a fairly typical small-town bank. Today, Peoples has locations in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico and operates a national mortgage company that does about $1 billion in mortgage loans per year.
Now, the bank is being sold in a deal valued at more than $140 million. Winter said it has been an incredible journey for the family. It included very difficult times during the recession of 2008, when the bank had to sign agreements with the Federal Reserve related to bad loans. Winter acknowledged there were questions about whether the bank would be able to survive the recession.
The bank, though, turned its loan portfolio around, and Winter said this deal came about because multiple banks began seeking to acquire Peoples.
“It is flattering,” Winter said of the deal. “It is the 'little guy comes through' type of story. We survived the recession and lasted nearly 50 years. That is a pretty cool thing, and then to have it culminate with a deal with such top-flight people. They are truly professional bankers. All of it is a testament to the great people we have had work with us.”
Bank Midwest’s parent company is National Bank Holdings Corp., which is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has 86 banking centers in the Kansas City region, Colorado and Texas. NBH announced it would pay Peoples shareholders $36.3 million in cash and approximately 3.4 million shares of NBH stock. NBH shares are trading at just under $33 a share today.
As for how the deal may affect customers of the bank, Peoples officials are touting that the merger should provide greater convenience, especially for those customers who often are in Kansas City. The merger will mean that Peoples customers will have access to 40 more bank locations in the Kansas City area once the change is made to Bank Midwest.
Peoples also operates banks in Ottawa, Overland Park, Stanley, Stilwell and Louisburg. Additionally, the company has banks in five Colorado communities, including Colorado Springs, and in three New Mexico communities.
National Bank Holdings Corp., in addition to having Bank Midwest, operates banks in the Front Range region of Colorado. NBH CEO Tim Laney said Peoples locations in Colorado and the Kansas City area were particularly attractive to the company.
“The transaction with Peoples bolsters our presence in our home markets of the Colorado Front Range and the greater Kansas City region,” Laney said in a release. “More specifically, the acquisition proves a strong market position in the attractive Colorado Springs and Overland Park markets, and expands our franchise into northern New Mexico. In addition, we believe Peoples brings us one of the strongest retail mortgage banking platforms based within a community bank.”
Peoples operates a mortgage operation that has a national reach and does more than $1 billion in mortgage loans per year. As part of the agreement, though, Peoples will divest or wind down its national mortgage business by the end of 2017. Winter said that part of the deal will involve some job losses, but he said none of those positions are based in the Lawrence area.
As for what’s next for Winter, he said he’ll continue to have a position within NBH, and also will evaluate what he wants to do next. A lawyer by trade, Winter said he may again do some work in that area. Whatever he does, Winter said he will do it in Lawrence. He is a fifth-generation Douglas County resident.
“I’m a homer,” he said.
The deal will give the Winter family multiple resources to pursue other ventures if they choose. The Winter family owns more than 90 percent of the Peoples bank entity, Winter said, with a handful of close associates owning the remainder.
Winter is a former Republican state senator, and he recently has become more active in politics serving as a leader of the Save Kansas Coalition, a group that railed against many of Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax and legislative policies.
Winter, though, said people should not expect him to get back into politics.
“It is kind of like when you think back on your days in high school,” Winter said of his political career. “You think it was cool and it was a lot of fun, but you also think ‘I don’t really need to do that again.’”
Winter, though, said he has had fun in recent years helping people run for office. So, perhaps keep an eye open for that.
Winter said he also plans to spend a significant amount of time helping Bank Midwest establish itself in the Lawrence market. He said the bank will add another major player to the city’s lending market. Peoples had loan limits of about $5 million, but he said Bank Midwest has the resources to make significantly larger loans.
“We are very pleased to be joining NBH,” he said. “Our family has built Peoples over the past five decades with a focus on caring for our customers, employees and the communities we serve. We found those same values at NBH and are proud to partner with the NBH family.”
Lawrence restaurant updates: La Parilla’s new location, plans for a Sandbar Sub shop and 60 years for Johnny’s Tavern
Downtown Lawrence’s restaurant scene is heating up. Here’s a look at a few updates:
• La Parilla has moved into its new location at 724 Massachusetts Street, which formerly was the home of Tapas.
Co-owner Subarna Bhattachan told me recently that the new space gives the Mexican/Latin American restaurant about double the space that it had in its old location at 814 Massachusetts.
But Bhattachan said lots of new space doesn’t mean lots of changes for the restaurant. He and co-owner/co-chef Alejandro Lule decided not to make any changes to the menu.
What you may notice, though, is the restaurant now has a full bar. It also has a second-story dining area, which Bhattachan said may be used for private dining and catering events.
Bhattachan said the restaurant eventually will start hosting some wine tastings featuring vintages from Spain, Chile, and Argentina. Bhattachan said he also wants to look into the idea of doing some rum and tequila tastings. That sounds very interesting, but I doubt I can afford to participate in a tequila tasting. No. Bhattachan didn’t share any prices with me, but it has been my experience that tequila tastings ought to involve bail money.
• Bhattachan confirmed to me that La Parilla — which will turn 15 this summer — wasn’t really looking to move. But the restaurant did not have its lease renewed at 814 Massachusetts.
That’s a good sign that the owner of 814 Massachusetts, veteran landlord George Paley, has another tenant lined up to take the space. Indeed he does.
Paley told me another restaurant is set to take over the space. I don’t have details yet on the name or type of restaurant slated for the location. Paley said the new tenant is someone who grew up in Kansas, but is coming back from the East Coast.
I’ll let you know when I get more details.
• Also in the category of needing more details, is a plan to redevelop the former Mirth Cafe space at 745 New Hampshire. If you remember, Mirth has moved to the old Pepperjack’s Grill location at 10th and New Hampshire streets.
A building permit has been issued to remodel 745 New Hampshire into a space to house a Sandbar Subs shop and a branch for Peoples Bank, according to the paperwork filed at City Hall.
I’ve got calls into representatives with both of those businesses, and will report back when I hear more. What I can tell you, though, is Sandbar Subs already has a presence in Lawrence. The restaurant has locations in the Zarco gas stations on W. Sixth Street and E. 23rd Street. It also has a location in the Zarco station along Interstate 35 in Ottawa.
It has sandwiches or wraps with names like Captain Hook, Pirate Steak, Sammy the Shark and Jimmy the Sailor. The restaurants play beach-lovers' music and have a very tropical theme to them. It's sort of like having Jimmy Buffett serve you a sandwich. (I don’t think the menu is salt free, so evidently he found his lost shaker of salt.)
As I said, no details yet on what the downtown location may involve, but I would be warming up your pirate voice and digging out your eye patch just in case.
I know I said this was going to be a restaurant update, and unless you do something different with your money than I do, Peoples Bank doesn’t fit that bill. But if Peoples indeed is opening another branch downtown, that would be significant. New bank locations were a hallmark of the 1990s and early 2000s when the economy was really humming. Over the past few years, however, it was more common to see a bank consolidate locations — Central National for example pulled out of downtown.
But recently there has been expansion activity. We reported on Baldwin-based MidAmerica Bank signing a deal to open a location on West Sixth Street, and Lawrence Bank will get a nice new facility in downtown as part of the multistory apartment building project slated for the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire.
So, maybe the banking industry is one to keep an eye on again in Lawrence. (I may even have to take this eye patch off.)
• Several of you have been asking for an update on The Roost, which is the breakfast- and lunch-oriented restaurant slated to take over the former space of Milton’s at 920 Massachusetts Street.
Well, Manda Jolly, a partner in the project, told me the restaurant is scheduled to have a late-June to early-July opening. Renovation work is underway.
Some of you may have seen that the restaurant has started a Kickstarter campaign to try to raise $20,000 in funding. That sometimes creates questions about the viability of a project, but Jolly told me some of the building plans for the restaurant would have to be readjusted if the campaign is not successful. Either way, the group is committed to opening the restaurant.
Jolly also gave me some other details about how the menu and ownership group of the restaurant is shaping up, as well as plans to get into the venue rental business are shaping up. I’ll pass those along in a later post.
• And finally, you can’t forget Johnny’s, although there have been times the establishment has made my memory a little fuzzy.
The venerable restaurant and tavern in North Lawrence is celebrating its 60th anniversary this week. There are a handful of old bars in Lawrence, but Johnny’s uses the phrase “the longest running tap in Lawrence,” to describe itself.
The bar will have a special concert on Friday night with Billy Spears and the Beer Bellies, and then will throw an anniversary party on Saturday.
The business got started in 1953 when John Wilson turned his father’s farm implement store into a tavern. For the past 35 years, Lawrence businessman Rick Renfro has been the lead owner of the operation, and has expanded the Johnny’s brand into West Lawrence and the Kansas City metro area.
“It’s extraordinary,” Renfro said of the business’ run. “The average life span of a bar or restaurant is 15 years. I think we have beaten the odds.”