New CEO to take over at Bank of the Sierra

New leadership

• Kevin McPhaill takes over as CEO of Porterville’s Sierra Bancorp.

• The company is the parent of Bank of the Sierra, the largest bank headquartered in the central San Joaquin Valley.

• Retiring CEO James Holly, the bank’s founding president in 1977, will remain on the company’s board of directors.


Porterville-based Sierra Bancorp has named Kevin McPhaill as its new chief executive officer, marking a change of leadership with the retirement of James Holly on Tuesday.

Sierra Bancorp is the holding company for Bank of the Sierra, the largest locally based bank in the central San Joaquin Valley with assets of about $1.6 billion.

Holly was the bank’s founding president and CEO and headed the company for 38 years.

McPhaill, who has worked for the bank for 14 years, has been the president and chief operating officer. The bank’s board designated him last fall as Holly’s successor. Holly will remain a member of the board of directors.

McPhaill, who grew up in Tulare County, earned a bachelor’s degree at Fresno Pacific University and an MBA in finance at Fresno State. He later graduated from Southern Methodist University’s Graduate School of Banking.

He joined Sierra Bancorp in 2001 as its Kings County area manager and rose through the leadership ranks. In 2006, he was named executive vice president and chief banking officer, and was promoted to president and chief operating officer in January 2014.

Holly, who has worked in the banking industry for more than 50 years, played a key role in establishing Bank of the Sierra in Porterville in 1977. What started out as a single-branch bank grew during his tenure to a company with 28 branches across the Valley.

“The board of directors and I have full confidence in Kevin and his abilities,” Holly said in a written statement. “Kevin has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and a true passion for customer service.”

McPhaill said Tuesday that he doesn’t expect to make any significant changes to the bank’s operations. “I think we’ve positioned the bank very well for continued growth and to increase our profitability,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a legacy of growth and profitability throughout the bank’s history all the way back to 1977, and we anticipate seeing that continue.”

He added that the company will keep an eye out for growth opportunities, either through expansion such as last year’s acquisition of Santa Clara Valley Bank in Ventura County, or through “organic loan growth.”

The Santa Clara Valley Bank deal, which was finalized in November, “gave us an opportunity to deploy some of the capital we’ve built up” in an acquisition that made sense for the company, McPhaill said. “You look at that market down there in Ventura County, and it’s similar in a lot of ways to our market here in the San Joaquin Valley,” he said. “Our business model plays well in that area.”

McPhaill said there are no prospective acquisitions that he can discuss, “but any acquisitions we do will be well thought-out in terms of geography, culture, and future profitability to our bank and to our shareholders.

“We have the capital base, we have the infrastructure, and we’ve proven that we can do it,” he said, noting that the Santa Clara Valley Bank acquisition took only about five months from the time it was announced last summer to its consummation in November.