SNHU Alumnus New CEO of St. Mary's Bank

Thursday, December 04, 2008
Union Leader

Covey comes 'home' to St. Mary's Bank

Ronald H. Covey Jr. starts Dec. 16 as president and chief executive officer of St. Mary's Bank (La Caisse Populaire St. Marie), the credit union announced.

He is a fourth-generation Manchester resident who grew up on the West Side, graduated from UNH, where he studied business administration, and obtained a master's of Business Administration in finance from Southern New Hampshire University.

"It is coming home for me," Covey said of his new post during an interview yesterday at St. Mary's McGregor street headquarters in the shadow of Catholic Medical Center.

Covey, 52, of Hooksett, has been executive vice president of Ocean Bank in Portsmouth since 2002.

He will be the eighth president of St. Mary's. "I'm very proud to be stepping into that role; that means an awful lot to me," he said.

Outgoing president and CEO Ronald J. Rioux, 66, said Covey, "has the ability ... to really take it to another level."

At Ocean Bank, Covey directed the commercial banking group in Maine and New Hampshire, with responsibility for lending, government banking, credit administration, business services, loan resolution and compliance. Ocean Bank is based in Portsmouth but Covey was based in Manchester.

"Ron has been a great asset to the bank in the years that he's been here" said Ocean Bank spokesman David Reid. "We are sad to see him go. He has contributed greatly to the commercial division here at the bank."

Covey said he was attracted to his new position in part by St. Mary's Bank's rich history -- it is the first U.S. credit union and is celebrating its 100th anniversary. He also was impressed by the dedication of the volunteer board of directors, on which he will serve as an ex officio member.

After a 30-year career in banking locally, St. Mary's will be Covey's first post at a credit union.

"My expertise in both the credit markets and credit underwriting , in deposits, in retail banking, all of that will play a factor in coming here from a technical perspective.

"From a community perspective, I think the other important thing to me was the legacy that St. Mary's has and my involvement in the community and my roots in the community. The two of those were a perfect match from my perspective, bringing my technical ability to work, where I also have a very soft spot for participating, giving back to the community. "

Rioux will stay on for three to six weeks in a transition role before ceding full control to Covey. Rioux will be retiring at the end of January 2009.

Despite a general tightening of credit in the marketplace, Rioux said St. Mary's has continued to approve consumer loans, mortgages and business loans.

"Year to date, we are ahead of our business plan we put together last year at this time without even knowing that the economy would get as challenged as it has become," he said.

"It has, I think, proven to the marketplace that credit unions, and specifically St. Mary's, can be a resource to them ... for both loans and deposits," Rioux said.

St. Mary's has approximately $650 million in assets, with deposits of approximately $530 million and gross portfolio loans of approximately $460 million.

Covey said he expects St. Mary's to expand its commercial lending. "But that's just one aspect of the many that St. Mary's is involved in." Others include home mortgages, home equity loans, car loans and consumer loans.

During Rioux's 16 years at the helm, St. Mary's has expanded to eight locations.

Covey is a vice chairman of the New Hampshire Institute of Art board of directors, a trustee of the N.H. Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America, and Robie's Historic Preservation Foundation and a trustee and past chairman of the board for Manchester Boys and Girls Club.

Covey previously served as executive vice president at Citizens Bank, 1991-2001, senior vice president/chief lending officer, at Numerica Savings Bank, 1985-1991, and vice president/commercial lending officer, BankEast, 1978-1985.

St. Mary's Bank has approximately 60,000 members, including individuals, families and businesses.

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