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Worth noting in business: Valley Republic posts record earnings despite jump in nonperforming loans, more

Valley Republic Bancorp posted record earnings of $4.55 million in the second quarter of this year, an increase of almost 24 percent from the same period a year earlier, even as the company is seeing more troubled loans and setting aside additional money to cover them if necessary.

The parent of Bakersfield-based Valley Republic Bank said total assets were up 12 percent year-over-year at $1.37 billion. Deposits increased 14 percent to $1.21 billion, it reported, and total loans rose 5.4 percent to $903.7 million.

Meanwhile, the company raised its allowance for loan losses to $11.1 million, an increase of 18 percent from the end of the second quarter of 2020. It said the sum of its loans 90 days or more overdue, deemed nonperforming, more than doubled since Dec. 31 to hit $2.35 million on June 30.

Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer Jack Smith said in a news release all Valley Republic's borrowers have returned to original repayment terms after the bank proactively modified many loans in 2020, when it reached a peak of $76 million in payment deferrals. He stated the bank's loan portfolio is "very sound, overall."

"Along with very modest delinquencies and improving financial trends in many of the industries we are engaged in," he wrote, "the bank is positioned for loan growth and support of the businesses and communities it serves."

The Urner's Z's Please Sleep Center mattress showrooms have been renamed Urner's Mattresses.

Owner Urner's, one of Bakersfield's oldest family- and employee-owned retailers, said the name change won't affect daily operations and that all its locations remain open.

"The Urner's name has been around for a long time, and people recognize it," President and CEO Steve Illingworth said in a news release. "So, even with this change, our service will remain the same, if not better."

The company started opening the mattress centers around Bakersfield in 2012.

The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce announced its manager of policy and public affairs, Kaelyn Peterson, has been promoted to become executive vice president of public affairs and executive director of its political action committee, BAKPAC.

The new role puts Peterson in charge of the chamber's advocacy, political and external-affairs activities.

“Kaelyn has proven herself to be a vital member of the Chamber’s team and one of our region’s most effective advocates for local business,” chamber CEO Nick Ortiz said in a news release. “In this expanded role, Kaelyn will allow us to elevate our advocacy and political action programs, ensuring our members have the strong representation they expect and deserve.”

Peterson, a Bakersfield native hired by the chamber in 2018, earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies at UCLA and a master's of business administration at Cal State Bakersfield. She worked earlier for state Sen. Jean Fuller, a Bakersfield Republican.

Bakersfield businessman Angelo Mazzei has been named one of two winners of the Irrigation Association trade group's 2021 Industry Achievement Award.

The chairman and CEO of locally based Mazzei Injector Co. LLC has more than 20 patents, including for the Mazzei Injector he developed in his garage workshop in 1978.

"This injector revolutionized the irrigation industry and is at the heart of a wide range of high-impact innovations in agriculture, human health and the environment," the association said in a news release.

Mazzei said in the release he is honored to receive the recognition.

“I owe this honor to my wife, family and the many dedicated employees that have made Mazzei Injector Co. a success over the 43 years of business," he stated. "Our company looks forward to the continued development of innovative technologies in our effort to make more efficient use of the world’s water resources.”

Retired local banker Bill Jeffries plans to join a weekly small-business webinar Wednesday to share information about lending trends and things to think about when looking for financing.

The free webinar, set to run from noon to 1 p.m., will also offer updates on government pandemic relief programs including the Employee Retention Tax Credit, Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

The event will be hosted by Kelly Bearden, director of Cal State Bakersfield's Small Business Development Center.

Participants can register for the event online at www.tinyurl.com/BusinessRelief72.