A Central California Coast bank expects to open a branch in Westlake Village, its 41st location and the first in the Conejo Valley, next month. Mid-State Bank & Trust, which will be located at 2663 Townsgate Road, will be a full service branch with a two-lane drive-thru. Arroyo Grande-based Mid-State, an independent community bank with assets of $2.4 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2006, has hired eight staffers from the local area for the Westlake Village branch. “We’ve contemplated Westlake Village for a while,” said James Stathos, CFO of Mid-State. “We finally found a location that would work for us.” The bank has been expanding aggressively since the late 1990s, largely as a result of acquisitions. Since 1998, it has acquired Bank of Santa Maria, City Commerce Bank in Santa Barbara, American Commercial Bank and Ojai Community Bank. The bank moved into Ventura County with the acquisition of American Commercial Bank, acquiring branches as far south as Camarillo. Westlake Village will be its southernmost location to date, but bank officials say they would also like to find a location in nearby Thousand Oaks. “We do a lot of marketing research before we decide,” said Stathos. “It indicated to us that as we progressively move south from our headquarters, there are more and more opportunities and businesses. In south Ventura County we found 1,600 businesses.” With about 20 miles between the Camarillo and Westlake Village branches, bank officials feel another location, midway between the two, would help to better capture the market. Stathos said the bank’s strategy has been modeled on a predecessor community bank, the historic Bank of A. Levy, a private bank founded in the 19th Century which was eventually acquired by First Interstate Bank and later folded into Wells Fargo. “They were the dominant community bank in Ventura,” Stathos said. “Ever since they left the market, no one has really replaced that dominance there. So I think we’re all trying to recapture the business and spirit of A. Levy.” Formed in 1961, Mid-State offers retail banking and lending services as well as business lending including construction and commercial real estate loans. It specializes in the middle market, serving businesses with sales between $5 million and $10 million. The bank also provides trust services including investment management and estate settlement services. “This is a terrific community, and I think they have a need for another community bank in Westlake Village,” said Augie Martinez, vice president who will oversee the branch. Martinez, who was previously customer service manager for Mid-State in Ojai, started his banking career at Crocker Bank in Westlake Village. The 27-year banking veteran has also previously served as a branch manager. He reports to Roger Hagar, regional vice president, who is a resident of Westlake Village.