Meet Ruben Garcia, a trusted loan officer whose joy is helping others

Photo of Ruben Garcia

Working to pursue his dreams, Ruben Garcia found his calling helping others achieve theirs. In 23 years as a residential loan officer—16 at Banner—Ruben has helped countless families buy a home. But mortgage banking was not his first calling.

Like many in his small hometown in Mexico, Ruben dreamed of coming to the United States to make money and return home. He got a visa at 17 and worked seasonally in the U.S. for about three years, harvesting potatoes, and picking apples, cherries and grapes. Before long, he received U.S. permanent residence status.

Encouraged by his parents to get an education, Ruben earned a mechanical engineering degree in Mexico. He’d hoped to work as an engineer, but his limited English at the time made it difficult to do so in the U.S. Able to earn more as a laborer here than as an engineer in Mexico, Ruben continued living between the two countries, driving truck in the U.S. and “taking every opportunity to learn English.”

As a young man with a family, Ruben decided to buy a house in the U.S. But with no credit, getting a loan was tough. He took on a high interest rate mortgage without inspections or appraisals, put money into the home and found himself in debt, struggling to make the payments. Someone suggested refinancing and Ruben visited many banks to learn about it. The loan officer who handled Ruben’s home refinance saw his potential and his honesty, and offered to train him to do the job. For a few hours each week, Ruben observed the banker at work, often translating for Spanish-speaking clients in Tri-Cities, Wash.

“It was really hard, but he was so nice. He kept encouraging me,” Ruben said. “I spent a year without closing a loan and when I finally did, I thought, ‘Gosh, I can do this and I can help people.’ Now, everywhere I go I see people I’ve helped.” Lately that includes children of clients he served years ago.

Ruben has a loyal following in the Hispanic community. Many trust and seek him on financial and personal matters, and thank him with produce they’ve grown. “I’m one of them!” he said, alluding to their shared heritage and his experience as an agricultural worker trying to learn English.

As important as their common language is the fact that Ruben generously gives his time. He welcomes conversations unrelated to mortgage, adjusts his schedule to suit working people, and doesn’t shy away from challenging financing.

Ruben’s dedication explains why he’s received several Banner’s Best Awards over the years. Though his days are full, Ruben finds time to gather with his large extended family for food and music at the home he built, or on regular camping trips. His dream may have shifted, but Ruben is sincere and joyful when he says, “I love what I do.”