Customers of 13 locally owned and operated banks in four western Montana counties may have noticed that their bank is sporting a new name.

The Family of Banks officially united under the name TrailWest Bank on Oct. 5.

TrailWest Bank's Hamilton vice president, Chris Edwards, said that customers have no need to worry.

Nothing, except the name, has changed.

“It’s important for people to know that the owners of the banks and the friendly staff that everyone has come to know and trust remains the same,” Edwards said. “This is simply a new name.”

Founded in 1982 by Alan Bradley and a core group of investors, Bitterroot Valley Bank began serving the Lolo area with a focus on personal service, a core value that remains in practice today.

By 2011, the bank had grown to six branches under the umbrella of the Family of Banks, including locations in Missoula, Frenchtown, Bonner, Superior and St. Regis.

In 2012, Bitterroot Valley Bank merged with Ravalli County Bank, the oldest chartered bank in the state. The Hamilton bank was founded by Copper King Marcus Daly in 1895.

Ravalli County Bank has been in the Shonkwiler family since 1967. Chuck Shonkwiler is the current president of the Hamilton, Corvallis, and Stevensville branches.

In 2015, West One Bank and its two offices in Kalispell joined the Family of Banks.

Three new branches will be opening in Missoula in the next 24 months, Edwards said.

The first branch will open in February 2016 at Palmer and West Broadway. A second will open in July at 218 E. Main St. The third branch will open in the next 24 months on South Reserve.

From the onset, Edwards said the bank’s founders focused on community and chose names that were geographically tied to the area where the branches were located.

As the company continues to grow, it became apparent that a single name would help alleviate confusion.

“Today, many banks are consolidating and becoming bigger to streamline operations, but in the process are losing that personal touch,” said Rich Zins, president and CEO of TrailWest Bank. “We remain committed to maintaining our small-town approach to banking and fostering long-term relationships with our customers.”

The bank’s new steer head logo has its roots in the longhorn cattle ranch, owned by Bill and Ramona Holt of Lolo. The Holts were original investors in the bank.

Edwards said the Texas longhorn is a strong animal that doesn’t need much feed or water to survive.

“Our new logo represents our ability to change with the times and survive adverse conditions,” he said.

Before the name change, the Family of Banks were called:

  • Bitterroot Valley Bank – Lolo
  • Airway Boulevard Bank – Missoula
  • Clark Fork Valley Bank – Frenchtown
  • Two Rivers Bank – Bonner/Milltown
  • Mullan Trail Bank – Superior and St. Regis
  • Ravalli County Bank – Hamilton (three offices), Corvallis and Stevensville
  • West One Bank – Kalispell (two offices)
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