Joel Hickman and Tony Olbrich knew each other sort of.
Each held the top local position in the national banks where they worked, Hickman as district president of Key Bank in Idaho and Olbrich as regional president of U.S. Bank for western Idaho. They respected each other as competitors.
If Joel Hickman was after one of my clients, I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride, Olbrich said.
Now the two are on the same side. U.S. Bank snapped up Hickman as Olbrichs successor when Hickmans old job disappeared a month ago in a company reorganization.
Community leaders and other bankers say Hickman is a good choice to lead the No. 2 bank as measured by deposits in the Treasure Valley.
You are looking at someone with broad experience, said Rob Perez, president of Northwest Bank (formerly Western Capital Bank), who worked at U.S. Bank for 30 years.
Community organizations that have counted on Hickman over the years, such as the Womens and Childrens Alliance and the College of Western Idaho Foundation, say they also are pleased he landed the job.
Key Bank has supported the WCAs Tribute to Women and Industry. Hickman co-chaired fund-raising efforts for the College of Western Idahos new professional-technical school. Key Bank is the season sponsor of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Joel has also been supportive out in the community, said Bea Black, executive director of the WCA. It says in my mind U.S. Bank is a savvy bank.
Olbrich plans to retire in June after 27 years with the bank and seven years as regional president. Hickman will begin work at U.S. Bank on Feb. 4 and will become the regional president in July. Between now and July, he will work with Olbrich to learn about the bank.
It allows me an opportunity to get out in the field, Hickman said.
Hickman left Key Bank in December after 25 years. He was district president since 2003. A few days after Hickman left, Olbrich bumped into him in the lobby of the U.S. Bank Plaza on Capitol Boulevard. Olbrich says he told Hickman, You need a hug.
That brief conversation led to a lunch at Angells Bar and Grill with Olbrich and Jim Grigsby, U.S. Banks divisional president for Idaho and Washington. They discussed the possibility of Hickman replacing Olbrich, who had said when he took the regional presidents job in 2007 that he would retire in 2013 when he turned 65.
Olbrich joined the bank while it was still Idaho First National Bank and stayed with it through changes to West One and finally U.S. Bank. Perez says he has strong credibility and a sharp banking mind.
Hickman, 56, will move to a bank with twice the market share in the Valley of his former employer. U.S. Bank has $1.6 billion in deposits and 19.4 percent of the market, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Key Bank has $696 million in deposits and 8.4 percent of the market. Wells Fargo is the leader with 26.7 percent of the market and $2.2 billion in deposits.
His tremendous background in retail marketing and private banking will be of great value, said Dawn Justice, the Idaho Bankers Association president and CEO.
His former employer wished Hickman him well, too.
Joel is joining a great banking institution, and we wish him nothing but the best, said Jack Sparks, a Key Bank spokesman.
U.S. Bank has 36 branches, 12 in-store branches and 450 employees in the western Idaho region that includes a sliver of eastern Oregon.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts