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By Leah Weissman

Pilot staff writer

Harbor Umpqua Bank was recently honored at the 13th annual Celebration of Excellence, which encompasses all 72 Umpqua banks in Oregon and Washington.

More than 1,000 Umpqua Bank employees packed into the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene on Feb. 2 to acknowledge their co-workers, managers and their entire bank.

"It's our annual awards program – our Oscar night where we recognize our associates' success for the year 2007," said Sandy Hunt, vice president of culture for Umpqua Bank. "We look for leaders in our culture, in customer service, and their commitment to excellence."

A rarity in banking celebrations, multiple awards were handed out to Harbor Umpqua Bank for its customer service and employee sales.

Out of all the Umpqua Banks, the Harbor "store" – as referred to by Umpqua employees – came in fourth for Return on Quality (ROQ).

"ROQ is a measurement we have in place to measure our success with customers," Hunt said. "It's based on surveys, loans, deposits – a lot of components fall into the calculation."

Harbor Umpqua Bank manager Bonnie Northrup said a successful store relies on gaining new customers, retaining existing customers, showing appreciation and being able to come up with innovative ideas – all of which exist at her bank.

Coincidentally, Northrup was awarded Store Manager of the Year for all of Oregon and Washington.

"It was a complete surprise," she said. "I think they recognized me because our store has been doing better this year than in previous years.

"To tell you the truth, I think people come here for the friendly atmosphere," she added.

Finally, Jonah Taylor, universal associate at Harbor Umpqua Bank, was nominated for Rookie of the Year and for the Top Referrals reward. He ended up taking home first place for Sales Effectiveness Ratio.

"It's really a hard award to get, and I'm really proud of him," Northrup said. "He's only been here for a year and has a high number of new accounts and really promotes the bank."

Compared to the other banks across the two states, Hunt said Harbor Umpqua did exceptionally well.

"Even though Umpqua is a fairly large bank, we try to have that hometown feel," Northrup said.


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