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COVER STORY
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J. Chris Walsh

President – Sunwest Bank, Tustin

OC METRO's Hot 25 for 2011Published: November 01, 2011

Status: Married with four children, ages 12 to 24
Your proudest moment: Becoming a vice president at age 23
Hot Factor: During the past three years, with J. Chris Walsh as president, Sunwest Bank’s assets more than doubled, all while weathering a tumultuous time in banking history.

Three years ago, Sunwest Bank had assets of $250 million. Today, that has more than doubled, to $607 million, the result of Sunwest’s strong organic growth, as well as the acquisition of three failed banks.
   
“This was great for us, because it gave us the chance to go into new markets, like San Clemente, Encinatas, and even to Arizona,” J. Chris Walsh says. But he also attributes that success to Sunwest’s shrewd decision seven years ago to get out of the construction-lending market. It was perfect timing, because that’s when many banks found themselves floundering financially when developers couldn’t make good on their loans.
   
“Our forte is small to midsize businesses, and we do well by simply concentrating there,” says Walsh. But part of the bank’s success may be his own enthusiasm for banking. Walsh has been at it for 32 years, and his father had been a banker.
   
“He taught me that in banking you get to meet with people in all walks of life. To see a young entrepreneur become successful because your bank helped him – some of them just starting out of their own garage. That’s a tremendous feeling.”

Editor’s Note: To see who made our “Hot 25” lists in prior years, visit our Archives page.
   
And, we’re now on the hunt for exceptional women who are impacting O.C. If you know someone who deserves to be on our 20 Women to Watch list, please let us know at our Nominate page.