MODESTO — Jeff Burda, perhaps Modesto's best-known bank executive, has been edged out of his management position with the family-owned Bank of Stockton.
Burda, who turns 60 this month, was a founder and chief executive officer of Modesto Commerce Bank, which the Bank of Stockton purchased in 2003. He previously had been CEO of Modesto Banking Co.
For the past decade, Burda held a leadership position at the Bank of Stockton, most recently as retail manager for all 15 of its branches. That ended Friday.
The Bank of Stockton is privately owned, primarily by members of the Eberhardt family.
"I was informed the next generation of Eberhardts didn't see me as part of their team," Burda said. "It was pretty sobering."
Douglass M. Eberhardt, 75, has been Bank of Stockton's CEO since 1994. Burda said he was told the bank's leadership is shifting to Eberhardt's son, Douglass M. Eberhardt II, 48, and his niece, Mary Elizabeth Eberhardt-Sandstrom, 58. The younger Eberhardts are listed as vice presidents on company's website.
Calls to the Bank of Stockton seeking confirmation about its management shift were not returned Tuesday. The 146-year-old financial institution has nearly $2.2 billion in assets.
"The Eberhardt family owns about 75 percent of the bank so it essentially is a family business," Burda explained. "This is the third generation taking over now."
R.L. "Ebe" Eberhardt joined the bank's management team in 1927 and was its president from 1949 until his death in 1963. His son, Robert M. "Bob" Eberhardt was took over as president, and he ran the bank until his death in 1994.
Bob's brother, Douglass M. Eberhardt, has been in control since. Eberhardt-Sandstrom is Bob's oldest daughter.
The Bank of Stockton paid about $61.5 million for Modesto Commerce Bank and Turlock Commerce Bank in 2003, and Burda initially retained his position with those Stanislaus County banks.
"I was geared up to finish my career with Bank of Stockton," said Burda, who had not planned to retire for five years. He said he now has "a lot of recalibrating to do."
He lives in Modesto and plans to stay. "I love community banking and I think I still have something to offer," Burda said. "I don't have a noncompete agreement so I hope to play a role at another bank somewhere."
Back in the mid-1990s after the locally owned Modesto Banking Co. was bought by a larger bank, Burda helped form a new community bank Modesto Commerce Bank.
Creating another locally owned bank now would not be so easy, Burda said. He said there are a lot more financial regulations, and "it's tougher to loan out money these days because there are fewer and fewer locally owned businesses."
"There's very little new credit growth in the valley," Burda said. "You just don't see many expansions going on."
He said community banks need to make small-business loans to prosper, and that's hard to do when companies are not growing.
Burda is among California's highest-ranked senior amateur golfers and he plans to continue with that hobby.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2196.