Wells Fargo & Co. has expanded its wealth advisory office at Two Portland Square in Portland by adding a full-service commercial banking office staffed with local, senior managers who will serve Maine companies statewide.

Two veteran New England commercial bankers recently joined Wells Fargo Middle Market Banking and will be based at Two Portland Square, where Wells Fargo Advisors, the bank’s investment planning and advice division, has served local customers since 1989, according to a news release issued Monday.

The Portland team will offer commercial banking products and services, including commercial and real estate loans, treasury management, global banking, foreign exchange and capital markets, in addition to specialty lending divisions such as beverage finance and food and agribusiness.

The two new senior relationship managers are former TD Bank senior relationship manager Rob Small and Dave Ott Jr., who most recently served as a vice president with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Boston. Both will report to Paul Forester, Wells Fargo’s regional vice president for middle market banking in northern New England.

Forester said Wells Fargo has been serving business customers throughout northern New England from its Boston office for years, and that the decision to open a Portland office was based on the bank’s desire to grow its commercial business in Maine.

The way to boost “middle market” business, the tier below very large companies, is to have a local presence with a staff that understands the local market, he said.


While Forester acknowledged that there is already a lot of competition in southern Maine for commercial banking, he said Wells Fargo has the ability to offer smaller loans than some other local banks, and that it has a strategy of expanding its relationship with clients as their banking needs increase over time.

“We call it the acorn theory,” Forester said. “You know, an acorn will grow into an oak tree someday.”

Banks in Maine have experienced an uptick in commercial lending that stems from pent-up demand for business expansion loans and a surge in real estate investment activity.

While Maine’s economy remains relatively flat, banks’ commercial loan portfolios have increased over the past few years as business clients who had been reluctant to borrow money because of economic uncertainty have decided they can no longer hold out.

At the same time, a real estate investment boom in and around Portland has created a bonanza for commercial mortgage lenders, including some newcomers from out of state. In November 2014, New York-based NBT Bank opened a commercial banking operation in Portland, lured by its development activity.

Forester indicated that the spike in real estate activity contributed to Wells Fargo’s decision to open a commercial banking office in Portland.

“Real estate is one of the lending areas that we really like,” he said.

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