Originally published in the Long Beach Business Journal.

Although we’re fully committed to serving all of our clients to the fullest extent possible, businesses with a privately-owned structure are one segment we feel we can passionately serve like other financial institutions cannot.

In fact, one family-owned business, RMI International, Inc. (RMI), discovered firsthand the commitment First Bank has to other like-minded organizations. After possessing a long-term relationship with another larger financial services provider, the Rodriguez family sought funding to buy out the entire ownership shares of a silent partner whose involvement no longer made sense and, conversely, was hindering further growth and expansion of the family’s security services’ operations. After interviewing eight other banks and receiving five viable proposals, First Bank was ultimately chosen as their strategic partner.

“We truly felt First Bank understood what the unique needs and challenges of a family-owned business are,” said Rick “Rocky” Rodriguez, Jr,. President of RMI. “Both privately-held businesses, we have a common DNA and synergy.”

Now, in its second generation of family leadership, RMI sees its’ employees, clients, and partners as an extension of their family. Introduced to me through RMI’s CPA, Lew Finkelstein, Partner at Rossi, LLP, Rodriguez said they saw us as not only a strategic partner but also an extension of their family. Much like First Bank, RMI places great emphasis on their people and long-term relationships. “We have similar histories and family values,” said Rick Rodriguez, owner of RMI and father to Rocky Rodriguez, Jr. And, as often is the case of family-owned businesses, the family’s values are also parlayed into the business setting. Striving to be long-term partners with their clients, RMI works to find the most effective, cost-efficient solutions available. “We know there are thousands of security options out there,” said Rodriguez, “but our clients definitely feel a sense of partnership with us.”

Poised for growth, the Rodriguez family partnered with First Bank because we offered access to local decision making; nimble responsiveness; a creative financing structure, and are family-owned. After all, we understand family-owned business; quite simply, because we are one.

Starting with just $300 in his pocket, Rick Rodriguez, along with his wife, Lupe, started their own security services business in 1996 to provide for their seven children. Now, with over $41MM in annual revenues, RMI International, Inc. is one of the largest Hispanic-Owned security services businesses in the nation and a qualified Minority Business Enterprise. With all seven of their children assisting in running RMI’s daily operations, they also now employ over 1,500 professionals in peak season while operating in over 17 states.

Maria Hunter, Vice President and Commercial Banking Officer, has over 13-years of experience in the commercial banking industry. She is a passionate trusted advisor, helping small to mid-sized companies achieve economic success. Clients see her as an advocate and a partner. A native of Nicaragua, she’s fluent in Spanish. Maria resides in Long Beach and is an active board member of the Los Altos Family YMCA where she was recently nominated as the Board Chair.