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New business alert: NFL star Bertrand Berry’s training facility coming soon to Phoenix

Loan closed for Bertrand Berry

Bertrand Berry is turning his athletic talents and passion on the football field into a long-term career off the field — and Gateway Bank is proud to play a small part in helping bring his dream to life.

Bertrand played in the NFL for 13 years. After spending time with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, he played with the Arizona Cardinals for six years before retiring in 2010. Since then, Bertrand has stayed involved with football to share his love for the game and help others improve their skills. While traveling the country with Under Armor to assist with training camps, he discovered a passion for coaching youth. That’s when the idea for Train’s Station was born.

Bertrand had a vision: start a football training facility in Phoenix that could help young athletes move up the ranks, as well as professional players up their game even more. To achieve this vision, he needed help starting the business.

That’s when he turned to Gateway Bank for a small business loan. Bertrand had a personal relationship with Business Development Officer Shellie Berry and President James Christensen, so working with Gateway was a natural fit.

“It’s definitely a little scary when you take out a loan,” Bertrand describes. “I appreciate that James saw the potential for my business and my passion for it, and that Gateway gave me the opportunity.”

James and the Gateway team guided Bertrand through the process and recently helped him close on his loan. Now, he’s busy getting the facility ready to welcome kids from across the Valley.

“Gateway does so much to help people realize their dreams. I can’t say enough good about their team,” he says. “I’m excited to get going, and I couldn’t have done it without Gateway.”

For more information on Train’s Station and to watch Bertrand’s progress, follow along on Twitter at //

A New Gym, New Classrooms, & a New Chapter for 91st Psalm Christian School

New Building for 91st Psalm Christian School


When Andrew Cunningham accepted a position as a groundskeeper, bus driver, and children’s church worker at SouthGate Church (then called 91st Psalm) in 1987, he never imagined he and the church would be where they are today. Since those humble beginnings, Pastor Cunningham has become the Senior Pastor and led SouthGate to become one of the largest ministries and Christian schools in the Southwest Valley — thanks, in part, to their partnership with Gateway Bank.

The school (still called 91st Psalm) that’s attached to the church has made the best of their limited space, but for decades, they have been bursting at the seams and in need of a gymnasium for sports practices and home games. That’s all about to change because SouthGate recently closed on a loan with Gateway Bank to fund the construction of a new building with a gym and two additional stories of classrooms.

Pastor Cunningham says Gateway was their first choice for a lending partner since they have had a relationship with the bank for years. “We were with two national banks before, and I was tired of having no relationship with them,” he explains. That’s when he met Gateway President James Christensen through an acquaintance. “I liked James from the get-go because he understood us,” the Pastor says. “He’s not just a banker. He’s a Christian man who sits on a church board and understands how churches operate differently than a business.”

After hitting it off with our team and moving the church’s banking relationship to Gateway, the Pastor talked to us about his vision for the new school building. He applied for a loan and was approved quickly.

James continued checking in with SouthGate as planning progressed. When cost estimates for the new gym came back higher than expected, Gateway was right there to work through it with them. “Some of the cost increases bumped up the amount we needed to borrow,” Pastor Cunningham says. “We talked to the bank, and they were awesome. They sat down with us, talked through the options, and ended up extending more funds to us.”

Pastor Cunningham is thankful to have found a local, flexible partner who shares the church’s deep desire to help people and who can help bring their vision to life. “Gateway doesn’t just say they want to help. They have set up their operations and team to actually do it,” he describes. “It has been our dream from the beginning to have a gym and more classroom space, but we were never able to get it done. Now we can with Gateway.”

Congratulations to the SouthGate Church and 91st Psalm team on this incredible addition. We’re looking forward to seeing what this new chapter has in store for you.

Video: When and How to Get a Loan

Taking out a loan can be confusing and intimidating. This video can help make the process clearer and easier. Watch to learn when to get a loan, how to get a loan, and what to look for in a lender.  

For more information on how to get a loan or to talk with one of Gateway Bank’s loan officers, contact us today.

In this video:

[0:25] What is a loan

[0:45] When to get a loan

[1:21] What to look for in a lender

[2:05] How to apply for a loan

[2:28] How long the review process takes

[2:45] What to expect during the closing process

[3:13] What’s next after closing


Other resources:

How Do Loans Work? An Overview of the Elements of a Loan: //

Types of business loans: //

Types of personal loans: //

An overview of the loan process: //

Checklist of documents to submit with your loan application: //

Business loan application: 



Don Thompson: Hello, I’m Don Thompson, and I’m the Chief Credit Officer here at Gateway Bank.

Jim LeCheminant: My name is Jim LeCheminant. I’m Vice President of Business Development for Gateway Bank.

James Christensen: My name is James Christensen. I’m the President and CEO of Gateway Bank. Today I’d like to talk to you about when to get a loan, how to get a loan, and how to choose a partner.

What’s the loan process like?

James Christensen: A loan is basically…you’re getting together with a banking partner that you choose, and set up a repayment schedule on a note that will help your business accomplish the goals that you’re setting out to.

Jim LeCheminant: Sometimes we try and deal with people and ask them if they really need a loan. We find out what they’re trying to accomplish and see if we can help.

When should I get a loan?

James Christensen: The right time to get a loan is when you’re in the strategic planning process with your business. If you’re going to need some equipment for the coming year, if you’re going to need to increase your line of credit to handle your growth.

Jim LeCheminant: They’re at that point where they don’t have the cash flow to keep it going and to grow to the next step. That’s when it’s time to come in and visit with us.

James Christensen: You’re really building your relationship with the bank, so I’ve already met you, I know you, I know what your plans are for the future. We kind of help the consulting process through there on the steps, and we have plenty of time to figure out how to help you accomplish all your goals.

What should I look for in a lender?

James Christensen: When you’re looking for a lender, I think you need to spend some time. I actually always recommend to folks to meet with at least two different banks.

Jim LeCheminant: You want a lender that’s going to work with you, that you can trust, that you can talk to, and that makes decisions locally or right inside the bank. Not some other state, not some other source that doesn’t know anything about your business or you personally.

James Christensen: You’re really looking for a culture fit and somebody that has worked with your type of business and understands what to look for. When we’ve worked with you all the way through the entire process, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think just being able to talk to your banker and really look at your banker as your partner, it really is an integral piece of your business. It’s like an additional employee of your business.

How do I apply for a loan?

Don Thompson: We can provide a checklist of the documents that we’ll need in order to apply for various kind of loans, whether that’s a real estate loan or a business loan.

James Christensen: First of all, just putting the entire packets together, and along the way if there’s any questions that you have, pieces of information you don’t typically have readily available at your hands, we can help you put that together and answer any questions along the way.

How long does the review process take?

James Christensen: At Gateway, the review process is typically a lot faster since all the decisions are made locally. We have a team — between the lender, the credit analyst, and loan ops — that are working on that credit as soon as you have it in here, so typically we’re turning it from that full package and getting it to the committee within a week.

What should I expect during the closing process?

Don Thompson: The loan closing process is exciting from the standpoint that we’ve made the decision, and you’re approved. You’re going to be able to get the money you want to either grow your business or buy that piece of equipment or buy real estate.

James Christensen: We want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible during the closing process, so we’re going to send the documents to you ahead of time to review and make sure that all the terms are as you expected so there’s no surprises at closing.

What’s next?

James Christensen: Gateway Bank has never been about the transaction.

Jim LeCheminant: There are a number of banks that sell off their loans. We don’t do that. We do what’s known as portfolio loans. We keep them when we work with that customer.

James Christensen: Once your loan is with us, your relationship is with us. We’re a partner in your business. It’s not a one-and-done, where we’ve closed the loan and you’re never going to see us again.

James Christensen: It’s really a lifetime relationship at the bank, so we’re going to call you occasionally. Typically there’s going to be some reporting you’re going to be providing us periodically, and we’ll call and ask questions. Or really, we just like to stop by periodically just to tour the business and see what happened with the loan proceeds and let you tell us what’s going on with your business today.

James Christensen: When you’re ready to develop the best banking relationship you’ve ever had, give us a phone call or check us out on our website.

Video: How Do Loans Work? An Overview of the Elements of a Loan

How do loans work? How are they structured? How can you get a lower interest rate? What should you watch out for? This video answers all of these questions about more.

Watch to see a simple breakdown of the different elements of a loan, plus what to pay attention to when you’re shopping for a lending partner and reviewing your loan documents.

For more information on how loans work or to talk with one of Gateway Bank’s loan officers, contact us today.

In this video:

[0:22] What is a loan, and how do loans work?

[0:58] What goes into a loan?

[2:20] What happens if I can’t make a loan payment?

[3:00] Tips for borrowers


Other resources:

When and How to Get a Loan: // 

Types of business loans: //

Types of personal loans: //

An overview of the loan process: //

Checklist of documents to submit with your loan application: //

Business loan application:



Anthony Martinez: I’m Anthony Martinez. I’m a Vice President of Commercial Lending at Gateway Bank.

Jim LeCheminant: My name is Jim LeCheminant. I’m a Vice President of Business Development at Gateway Bank.

James Christensen: My name is James Christensen. I’m the President and CEO of Gateway Bank. Today, I’d like to talk to you about the different elements of a loan and how a loan works.

What is the loan process like?

James Christensen: Basically, a loan is when we give you money, and then you pay us back that money plus some interest.

Jim LeCheminant: You know, when people apply for a loan, it’s pretty scary, pretty confusing, but it really is exciting to be able to get a loan and get approved and watch your business, or as an individual, get what you need.

Anthony Martinez: Here at Gateway, we try to make this process as less frustrating and as easy as possible. It’s almost from a consultative standpoint, where we try to uncover their needs, match our loan products, and build a structure that will assist them in getting the financing they need, for the purpose that they need.

What are the basic elements of a loan?

James Christensen: There’s quite a few pieces on what goes into a loan. Really, the structure of a loan is one of the most important things. It’s one of the advantages Gateway has in that consultative approach.

Anthony Martinez: There are a lot of factors that go into a loan. We call those the terms of the loan. Anything from the length of the loan, interest rates, APR, collateral. It could be a fixed or variable. That just depends on the type of product that we’re looking at providing.

James Christensen: A lot of times, people say, “Well, another bank gave me two or three covenants. What’s that mean?” A covenant might be the debt-to-worth of your company. If you have $100,000 in debt and $50,000 in net worth, at that point you’re two-to-one times debt-to-worth.

James Christensen: The bank sometimes will set a limit on that and say, “The debt can’t be more than three times your net worth.” The one thing at Gateway is, if we do happen to have a covenant on the loan, we’re going to go through it with you, we’re going to show you the formula, we’re going to show you exactly what that looks like, and really work with you to determine, “Do those covenants really make sense?”

Jim LeCheminant: We look at the history. Usually it’s three years of financial statements for your business and your personal financial statement too. If it’s strong, you’re going to get a more lucrative rate, a lower rate. You’re probably going to get better terms on the length of the loan.

What happens if I can’t make a payment?

James Christensen: You know, we understand there’s ups and downs in all businesses. There’s good times, there’s bad times. Really, all’s we look for with our clients is to have an open dialogue. We’ve always been here, we’re always going to be here to make any adjustments we need to your loan, to have a change in terms that’ll fit whatever is coming up in your business.

James Christensen: We’re your partner. We’re not the enemy. We’re not the one that, you know, if you don’t make your payment we’re out of here, or we’re going to come take your business, or we’re going to come foreclose on your building. That’s not who we are. We are here to make you successful and help you make Arizona a better place to live.

Any tips for borrowers?

James Christensen: I would go out, and I would ask the lender or whoever I’m meeting from that team how long they’ve been at the bank. I think it’s okay to ask, “Is your bank for sale?” I think it’s okay to ask if you sell any of your loans. Really, just anything you’ve thought of banking-related that might cause you concern or be a pain point for you, feel free to ask that question. If they don’t answer them to your satisfaction, that’s not the right place to be.

Jim LeCheminant: It’s best to come in and talk to us, see what your needs are. Your needs and what we can do may not always match, and we may have another suggestion or two that may be even better for you.

James Christensen: A lot of banks really try to make this process overly complicated. In all honesty, it really isn’t. At Gateway Bank, we’re here to walk you through the process, and make sure that whatever you need, your goals for the business, whatever you’re trying to accomplish, we’re going to help you get from point A to point B. We want you to be successful, and we want you to understand what we’re doing, and we want to be part of your team.

James Christensen: When you’re shopping for a loan, in my opinion what matters most is the relationship with the bank, with the banker. Does the banker get excited about what you do? Are they interested in you? The bank’s investing in you. The bank’s investing in your company.

James Christensen: It’s one of those things that’s not always measurable. It’s feel. You know, is the banker as equally excited about my business as I am and helping me take it to the next level and succeed?

Partnering for the Puurrr-fect Small Business Loan: The Story of Dr. Garthe, VMD

Veterinarian Dr. Garthe always had dreams of opening her own practice. Now, her dreams are becoming a reality with the help of Gateway Bank.

After working in other practices for over 35 years, Dr. Garthe decided to pursue starting her own. She wanted to launch as soon as possible, but it would take time and money to acquire a location, as well as construct and equip a new practice. Then, Dr. Garthe came up with a brilliant idea: She could provide mobile veterinary services to make house calls until her new office is ready.

This plan would all allow her to maximize her wait time and provide a convenient option for patients. Now she just needed the funds to make it happen. That’s where Gateway Bank came in.

Dr. Garthe met President James Christensen through a business broker, and she immediately noticed a difference. “I had talked with other lenders, but when I met with James, it was so much different,” Dr. Garthe explains. “He gave me the type of feeling I try to give my patients: that there’s a relationship and that they care.”

After talking with James, Dr. Garthe decided to proceed with Gateway on her small business loan. Since then, she has closed on her loan, signed a lease for her new office, and started construction.

Dr. Garthe has not only enjoyed partnering with Gateway to get financing, but also the experience after closing. “It’s been great working with a local bank that has amazing customer service and really cares,” she describes. “They put the extra time and effort into making sure you’ll succeed. You really become part of the family.”

We are grateful to play a small role in helping Dr. Garthe pursue her dreams and look forward to her practice, Paradise Point Animal Hospital, opening later this year near Tatum and Thunderbird! To learn more about her mobile clinic and future office, visit


5 stars from BauerFinancial: Relationship banking at its best

We’re proud to announce that BauerFinancial has awarded Gateway Bank a 5-star rating for the 34th consecutive quarter! Here is BauerFinancial’s release about the award.

January 2019: Coral Gables, Florida

BauerFinancial, Inc, the Nation’s Premier Bank Rating Firm, is pleased to announce that Gateway Bank, Mesa, Arizona has once again been awarded its highest (5-Star) rating for financial strength and stability. Earning a 5—Star rating indicates this bank excels in areas of capital adequacy, profitability) asset quality and much more. Earning and maintaining this top rating for 34 consecutive quarters, makes its status indisputable as one of the strongest banks in the nation.

”Gateway Bank’s ability to excel and consistently deliver a stellar financial performance, is a true testament to its values and dedication,” remarks Karen Dorway, president of BauerFinancial. “Through an unwavering commitment to its customers and personal relationships, Gateway Bank has distinguished itself as one of the strongest banks in the nation.”

Established in 2007, Gateway Bank has been building relationships and providing personalized solutions for its customers for 11 years. Today it operates through a conveniently located office on East Warner Road in Mesa and can also be found online at

Gateway Bank: “Your gateway to a new banking experience.”

Member of the FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.

BAUERFINANCIAL, Inc., Coral Gables, Florida, the nation’s leading independent bank and credit union rating and research firm, has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks and credit unions since 1983. No institution can pay for or opt out of a BauerFinancial rating, Star ratings are all available for free at


BAUERFINANCIAL, INC. PO. Box 143520, Coral Gables, FL 33114.

Loan CLOSED! Congratulations to the new owners of Kid Glove Inc.

Jack and Amanda Monti dreamed about acquiring a business in the Valley. With the help of Gateway Bank, they made that dream a reality.

Jack and Amanda came across an opportunity to acquire Kid Glove, a family-owned moving and storage company in Scottsdale, AZ. The business fit perfectly with their past experience and what they wanted to provide for their growing family of six.

Since the company was founded in 1992, the company has become known in the Valley for their furniture delivery and installation, residential and commercial relocation, and receiving and inspection services. They serve clients in many industries — designers, builders, realtors, home owners, and many more — and also provide 20,000 square feet of climate-controlled warehouse for receiving and storage.

The Montis were intrigued by the opportunity to acquire Kid Glove and needed financing for the purchase. Their attorney, James Kuzmich had worked with Gateway Bank for many years and referred them to us. EVP/Chief Credit Officer Don Thompson and Vice President Christie Boutain collaborated closely with Jack and Amanda on a creative financing structure. Don, Christie, and Anthony Bodnar worked with another lender that needed to be paid off and coordinated all of the key stakeholders, including the borrower, the seller, their respective attorneys, the title company, and the landlord’s agent and attorney.

With Gateway’s help, Jack and Amanda successfully closed on the acquisition in September 2018. Their goal was to make the process as smooth and easy as possible for themselves and Kid Glove’s team. The Montis are proud to have achieved that goal and retained all staff members through the transition.

“Thank you so much Christie, Anthony and Don,” Jack said. “Amanda and I are so impressed with Gateway Bank, and so happy to be working with you all. Thank you all so much.”

With the acquisition complete, Jack and Amanda are looking forward to continuing the company’s legacy and giving clients across the Valley the “kid-glove treatment”!

Loan CLOSED! Bunker Family Funerals & Cremation is expanding in Gilbert

Gilbert has been the largest municipality in the U.S. without a cemetery— until now, thanks to Bunker Family Funerals and Cremation. This fourth-generation family business, which currently runs two funeral homes in Mesa, is working with Gateway Bank for their construction and permanent loan so they can build a new funeral home and the first cemetery in Gilbert, to be called Gilbert Memorial Park.

Located at Queen Creek Road and 158th Street, Gilbert Memorial Park is set to open in 2019. It will encompass 22 acres of manicured gardens, indoor and outdoor cremation memorialization options, private family estates, as well as a new facility for funerals, spiritual services, tributes, luncheons, and more.

Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels and Town Council members joined the Bunker family for the park’s groundbreaking over the summer.

“This is a remarkable way to provide a needed service to the community. … It’s going to be a beautiful place run by a very reputable company,” Daniels told KTAR News 92.3 FM for a recent feature story.

Gateway Bank is proud to be part of the Bunker family’s new venture. Bunker has been a Gateway customer since 2012 and chose to partner with us on the loan for this new project because of our longstanding relationship and creative solutions to complex challenges.

For example, due to the size of the project, Gateway needed a participant bank to help with financing. Fortunately, EVP/Chief Credit Officer Don Thompson had developed relationships with several other banks over the years and was able to engage them as partners for the loan.

This deal also required a unique approach to underwriting and coordination with many stakeholders, including the Town of Gilbert, Bunker’s attorneys, and the participant banks. Through collaboration, due diligence, and frequent communication, we were able to navigate these complexities and bring the financing to close.

President Bryce Bunker commended Don and his team for their patience and perseverance. “Just wanted you to know that we appreciate your hard work on this loan,” he said. “We have loved banking with Gateway. Thanks in advance for pushing hard to get this thing done in the coming days! We appreciate you!”

Blake Bunker added,”Thank you for working with us on getting this loan done. I know it was a lot of work on your end and we asked a lot of you. We look forward to a successful and long-standing relationship with Gateway.”

Our goal at Gateway Bank is to help our customers achieve their dreams. We’re proud to be part of making Bunker’s vision a reality and providing the Town of Gilbert with a top-class funeral home facility and cemetery. Congratulations to Bunker on starting the next chapter in their business, and thanks to Don Thompson, Christie Boutain, and the Gateway team for working their magic!

For more information on Gilbert Memorial Park and to see the facility come to life, follow them on Facebook at

Making a difference together

LBW=storefront (1)

When Frank Rosenberg starts a business, he always looks to make a positive impact on his community. His latest venture, the LBW Training Center, fits right in with his mission to accomplish good. The training center is a healthcare education facility known for its unique style, and top-notch teachers. “We focus on providing high quality healthcare education and a fun learning environment,” said Frank.

In his first year of running the center, Frank and his team tripled the number of people taking courses, and maintained the center’s reputation for teaching the best courses in the valley. In addition to training approximately 3,000  professionals in the valley, Frank and his staff are very dedicated to giving back to our community. Of course, that’s where our two paths intersected.

Personal connections make running a business easier

Frank was introduced to Gateway bank through one of our employees, Scott Morris, at the Mesa West Rotary Club, where both men volunteer. Before banking with us, Frank was working with a large national bank. “Nobody there knew who I was. They just took my deposit and waved goodbye.” Now that he’s with Gateway, Frank says, “Things are more about relationships. The people at Gateway know who I am, and I know they’ll take care of me.”

Why we love our staff

“The people at Gateway are the best professionals in the area. I no longer feel stressed out about anything related to banking. They gave us a business line of credit when most banks weren’t offering that. They just have less hoops to jump through.” In addition to all that, Frank says what he really likes about us is our people. “The people at Gateway are really the best part about banking there.”

Thanks, Frank. We appreciate your support and the opportunity to tell your story. We can’t wait to see what you do next. Whatever it is, we know our community will be grateful for it.


What we learned from “love your local bank” month


Local First Arizona put on a speed dating event to help local businesses get hooked up with local banks. We sent a group of our team members, including our president, James Christensen, out to the event to see what it was all about, and we were really happy with the spirit of local self-reliance.

The big bank blues

Lots of local businesses start banking with one of the big guys, only to find that they’re seen as small potatoes. James said he heard many small business owners talking about similar problems. “People were telling me they experienced very slow responses, or no responses at all. They were frustrated with not having a specific person for their account who they could call.”

Our team makes the difference

We’re fortunate to have amazing team members who are in this for the long haul. When James was talking to people at the speed dating event, he found that business owners really just want to find a reliable partner. “They wanted to find a connection. I told everybody when they came up that what makes Gateway better than everyone else is our team, and the amount of experience we have. Between myself and our COO and CFO we have almost 100 years of experience.”

This is how local starts

Right now, even though small and mid-sized banks like us control less than one-quarter of all bank assets, we account for more than half of all small business lending. The problem? Arizonans have deposited 96% of their money into banks with out-of-state ownership, leaving us with only 4%. One of the goals of events like these are to raise that percentage from 4% to 10%. Think of how much more good we’d be able to do for local businesses if got even close! With events like this one popping up, we know the only place to go from here is up.