Valley Strong to bulk up with Solano First merger

Solano First Federal Credit Union, a $175 million-asset institution in Fairfield, Calif., has agreed to merge into Valley Strong Credit Union, subject to approval from regulators and Solano First members.

Nick Ambrosini, incoming CEO of Valley Strong Credit Union

The combined institution will hold assets of $2.4 billion and serve more than 160,000 members across 21 branches. The deal will provide the former Solano First members with additional products and services, including in-house service for mortgage loans, small- business lending, investment management, a broader branch network and more.

“Merging with Valley Strong allows us to provide enhanced capabilities, more robust products and service offerings, and other significant benefits to our members, our team members, and the communities we serve,” Solano First President and CEO Mike Warrell said in a press release.

The deal is expected to close by midyear, with full integration taking place by the end of 2021. Warrell will transition to the role of market president at the combined credit union and remain active in daily operations, according to an online FAQ. All Solano First employees are expected to be offered positions at the merged institution.

Nick Ambrosini, who will take the helm at Valley Strong this summer, will lead the organization once the merger is completed.

“After several months of working side by side to analyze the value of partnering with Solano First, the Valley Strong board of directors and I feel that combining our two organizations allows us to further our mission of helping people and communities prosper,” Ambrosini said in the release.

Valley Strong, known for decades as Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, rebranded early last year as part of a broader growth effort.

Solano First earned just under $10,000 last year after reporting a loss of more than $165,000 in 2019. Before 2020 it had not posted positive earnings at year-end since 2015.

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