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Updated: December 18, 2023

Outgoing Camden National Bank CEO predicts more industry consolidation

Greg Dufour File photo / Tim Greenway Greg Dufour, president and CEO of Camden National Bank, is set to retire at the end of this year.

Greg Dufour, the outgoing president and CEO of Camden National Bank, predicts more deal activity in Maine’s banking sector amid the pending merger between Gorham Savings and Maine Community banks. 

“I do think we’ll see consolidation within the industry,” Dufour told Mainebiz in a phone interview in advance of his retirement on Dec. 31.

Dufour, 63. joined Camden National as senior vice president of finance in 2001 before being named president of Camden National Bank in 2004 and president and CEO of Camden National Corp. in 2009.

Reflecting on how the industry has changed over the past several decades, Dufour noted that the number of banks in Maine has gone from roughly 150 institutions in the mid-1970s to around 30 after the latest merger. Driving that trend is a combination of factors, from financial to regulation, he said.

In addition, “we're all looking for growth, and need scale to pay for the technology," he said.

“I think we’ll begin to see more” merger activity, he added, “but it’s more of a long-term trend versus a short-term one.”

He also said that while competition is growing from bigger rivals such as Chase, he believes that Maine community banks have a strategic advantage in the ability to provide more locally focused service. But at the same time, "you need technology to keep yourself in the game."

'Deliberate' growth 

At Camden National, Dufour has focused mainly on organic growth with strategic acquisitions. They include Camden National’s purchase of 15 Bank of America branches across the state in 2012 and its purchase of the Bank of Maine in 2015.

With the BofA deal, for example, the bank already had a strategy of expanding its deposit base to fuel growth when that opportunity came along.

“We’ve never done an acquisition that people have scratched their head about and said, ‘Why is Camden doing that?’ That is something I’m proud of,” Dufour said, using three words to describe the strategy: “Deliberate, disciplined and opportunistic.”

'Quite a story'

Dufour grew up in Old Town and studied finance at the University of Maine, then earned an MBA from the University of North Texas. He returned to Maine to take a job at what was then known as Merrill Trust Bank in Bangor, and which later became Fleet Bank. Dufour went on to lead finance at Fleet Bank before joining Camden National in 2009.

He said he’s thought about penning a book about his career in banking.

“When I talk to other retired CEOs, it’s quite a story,” he said.

Today, Camden National Bank is Maine’s third-largest bank by market share, as ranked in the upcoming 2024 Mainebiz Book of Lists. The rankings, based on Maine deposits of June 30, 2023, put Camden National Bank after TD Bank (No. 1) and Bangor Savings Bank (No. 2).

Asked what parts of the business are growing the fastest, Dufour mentioned corporate treasury management and retail, and said the company is investing in a new customer-facing platform for wealth management clients.

His take on the health of Maine’s banking sector: “I think we’re doing well,” he said. “We’re all enjoying some very strong asset quality,” in part because of good loans underwriting over the past 12 to 18 months during a time of turmoil. But he said that high interest rates have been “taking their toll” on banking.

He expects lending to be not as strong as it was in the past couple of years due to interest rate levels and other factors including the cost of materials and lack of labor.

"In one way that's not good, but in another way it says people are being cautious, which I think is good — a little bit of [financial] conservatism is appropriate," he said.

'Enjoy it all'

Dufour’s advice to Simon Griffiths, who will succeed him as president and CEO at Camden National Bank on Jan 1: “Have fun with the job," Dufour said. "You’re living and working in great communities, it’s a a great state, and you’ve got to remember to enjoy it all.”

Griffiths has most recently worked as executive vice president and head of core banking at Boston-based Citizens Bank, managing its retail and business channels.

As for his own next chapter, Dufour said he plans to take a few months without any major commitments. He looks forward to spending time with his immediate family and grandchildren as he figures out his next move.

Dufour also plans to stay on as a board member of MaineHealth, saying, "I do enjoy the work and the impact that MaineHealth has. I feel very fortunate that I can keep that going and stay involved in both the Camden area as well as Portland."

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