Since then, it has been profitable each quarter, most recently earning $457,483 in the second quarter.
Apollo is also increasing its branch presence, and now has locations in Doral and Coral Gables. It is interested in expanding to the Miami Lakes and Hialeah area, Arriola said.
“Our primary market is Miami-Dade — that’s where our focus is,” he said, “and we have done some lending in Broward and Palm Beach counties.”
His priority, he said, is to “build a great bank, build it organically, focus on service, and focus on the local market. And if the right opportunity comes up [to make an acquisition], we would consider it.”
To support Apollo’s growth, the bank is expecting to raise an additional $10 million in capital from shareholders this year.
Apollo’s aim is “to be a domestic bank,” focused on relationships, with a diverse loan portfolio, Arriola said. Since taking over, it has flipped its emphasis, and is now 70 percent domestic and 30 percent international.
The goal, now, is to grow by 25 percent per year, adding a new branch each year for the next few years, he said.
Based in Coral Gables, Banesco USA is growing — both organically and through acquisitions.
Founded in 2006, the bank has been on a buying spree of late. It acquired North Lauderdale-based Security Bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in May, which gave it three branches and $101 million in assets. Also in May, Banesco USA purchased a Weston branch and deposits from Great Florida Bank. Most recently, it agreed to buy a branch in Pompano Beach from Flagler Bank, and expects to complete the purchase in September, said Rafael F. Saldaña, president and chief executive of Banesco USA.
In all, the bank has 153 employees and six branches in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and one in San Juan, which it opened last year.
Loan growth has been significant: up 47 percent in 2011, 42 percent in 2010 and 37 percent in 2009.
“This is the time to grow prudently, but surely,” Saldaña said.
Miami Gardens-based chocolate factory Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa has expanded its relationship with Banesco USA, borrowing a total of about $5.5 million within the past two years to buy its facility and equipment, said Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa Chief Financial Officer Ignacio Martinez.
“We have a very strong relationship with the bank,” Martinez said. “This is a relationship that even the president came into our operation — you don’t see that in a large bank.”
That’s one of the reasons clients cite for preferring a community bank.
“We need service,” Martinez said. “We need a bank that understands our business, and we believe that Banesco really understood our business and our business model.”
Banesco USA is independently owned by three individuals who have ties to Venezuela and have common ownership in Banesco Group banks in Venezuela, Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
“We’re a Miami bank,” said Saldaña, 52, who was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and worked in banking for 31 years before joining Banesco in 2008.
The bank’s plan is to expand in Miami-Dade, Broward and Puerto Rico, and continue to build its diversified loan portfolio and network, he said.