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Hot 25: 2009 Honorees

OC Metro
Caitlin Adams

Glenn Gray
Chief Executive Officer, Sunwest Bank
Age: 55
Fact: Gray and his wife rode the final week of the Tour de France this summer, completing five of its mountain climbs.

What is your view of the banking industry over the next 12 to 18 months?
There will be more failures, especially among small and mid-sized banks. This will create pressure on the FDIC to cover the losses caused by the failed banks, which will affect the healthy banks in the form of increased assessments and pressure on profits. Banks such as Sunwest, which practice good lending standards and have built up their capital base, will be in a good position to grow through acquisitions.

The saying "He who laughs last, laughs best" certainly applies to Glenn Gray. As chief executive of Sunwest Bank, Orange County's largest privately held bank, Gray took some flak a few years ago, when the real estate bubble was big and subprime loans were the order of the day.

"We did not pursue the types of lending opportunities that were abundant during the heydays of 2005 to 2007, because we foresaw the economic correction that would inevitably need to occur," Gray says. "To many, we were boring."

Boring sure beats bankrupt. And success is even sweeter: Sunwest acquired two distressed banks earlier this year.