STOCKTON — Bill Trezza has retired as chief executive officer with the Bank of Agriculture and Commerce Community Bank.

Perhaps the last of Stockton’s true community bankers, the 72-year-old native of Orange, New Jersey, spent 37 years with the Stockton-based institution, the past 34 as CEO. On Dec. 31, Trezza stepped down as the longest-tenured CEO of any community bank in the state. He plans to remain active on several boards, will make time to travel and has resolved to read at least one new novel per month.

Trezza cultivated close relationships with clients and customers and developed innovative services to meet their needs. Trezza has served on numerous boards, including Hospice of San Joaquin, Dameron Hospital, JobRedi Foundation, Mary Graham Children’s Foundation, Stockton Metropolitan Airport Aviation Advisory Committee and Pacific Italian Alliance, to name several.

“He’s one of those folks who will get down in the weeds but can fly in the clouds,” said Andrea Songey-Neff, executive director of the Pacific Italian Alliance, an Italian heritage organization that puts on the Festa Italiana. “He doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, but he is also more than happy to facilitate things that only people of his stature can.”

Trezza graduated with an accounting degree from Villanova University and went to work for the Controller of the Currency, a federal banking agency, and stayed there in various capacities for 13 years prior to joining BAC as chief financial officer. The bank was struggling. Trezza’s boss, Nolan Stockton, the chief executive officer and a descendant of Commodore Robert F. Stockton, gave his young charge one directive:

“He just said, ‘Fix everything,’ ” Trezza said.

Trezza, who had worked to turn around troubled banks, among many other jobs, while with the Feds, put his experience into action.

“I systematically took every component of the bank that was underperforming and attacked it and just fixed it,” said Trezza, “and in four months we were making money again.”

In 1984, Nolan Stockton retired and recommended the board elect Trezza as his successor, which it did. Trezza had considerable banking acumen but never had built a bank before. Trezza put together a team that included Dana Bockstahler, who has succeeded Trezza as CEO, Janet Jenkins, who now is the executive vice president and chief operating officer, and more recently, Chief Lending Officer Paul Haley.

“As a leader of our organization, Bill really instilled in me and the other executives to work as a team, have some individuality but work together to move the bank forward,” Haley said. “He’s been a great mentor. He’s helped me a lot as far as developing me.”

In the late 1980s, the Stockton community banking landscape was small with well-entrenched players, such as Bank of Stockton, Union Safe Deposit Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Trezza found niches in the business and personal banking markets, opened branches in underserved Valley communities and procured software that allowed clients to bank remotely before the internet took hold. When interstate banking became widespread in the mid-1980s, BAC acquired new business by offering better personal service than the big banks.

By the 1990s, Trezza had positioned BAC to satisfy the banking needs of property owners, property managers, parishes, trucking companies, hospitals and automobile dealerships.

“We have a lot of high-level customers for a bank that’s only 50 years old versus a 150-year-old bank,” Trezza said.

BAC survived the recession in the early 1990s and the real estate market collapse last decade. The bank has grown from some $40 million in assets when Trezza started to about $650 million today. BAC offers personal and business banking services and employs 110 people with 12 branch offices. Ron Berberian is the chairman of the board and president.

Trezza, an avid New York Yankees fan who turned down a job in Boston early in his career due, in part, to his disdain for the Red Sox, said his first trip as a retiree will be to his family’s ancestral hometown in Italy just south of Salerno.

“The status and the condition of the bank and the relationships with our customers and the people I worked with,” said Trezza, when asked what he’s most proud of accomplishing. “It’s all about people. We accomplished a lot. I’m a part of it, and I’m very proud of it.”

 

Contact reporter Bob Highfill at (209) 546-8282 or jhighfill@recordnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobhighfill.