Journey to the Puget Sound

Stephen Trefts, President & Founder

Stephen Trefts, President & Founder

For over 30 years, it has been an honor and privilege to provide sound and compassionate trust and estate management services to those in need of hands-on assistance. This brief story started as a vision, born in the basement of our modest home those many years ago, that led us to open an office on the Washington Coast — Olympia to be exact.

It has been an incredible journey that, in the early days, began with people like “Ruth” who, as a missionary, spent 35 years serving in the Brahmaputra Valley (Northeast India, now Bangladesh). She put her retirement savings of about $35,000 into a trust with us. 

It never ceases to amaze me that, due to our reputation for integrity, people who have never met us will, at the recommendation of their attorneys or advisors, trust us to manage their entire estate and financial lives of their children and grandchildren. We set ourselves apart by emphasizing a compassionate approach to our professional services — it’s not just about the money. It is this outlook that has contributed to our rapid growth and, as I meet with advisors throughout the Northwest, they frequently ask, “When are you going to open an office here?”

Through a series of circumstances, Greg Bowman and I found ourselves at lunch with Steven Elliott, the highly educated, Co-founder and President of Capstone Trust, headquartered in Olympia, Washington. Steven served for years in the army and experienced intense combat in Afghanistan. Out of this, he became an author of books and articles about “veterans who suffer from PTSD and unseen war wounds.” His military service and the compassion it created permeated Capstone Trust. While Steven enjoyed the journey, he wanted to move into a new career and we were the only company that could ensure his reputation, business, and clients were all in good hands. 

We were excited to announce the acquisition of Capstone Trust in early 2022 and have been successful at integrating the clients into Northwest Trustee. Both of our firms have several key elements in common. First, we are completely independent. While there are four attorneys at Northwest Trustee, they do not practice law to the general public. We also always use outside investment advisors — preferably those of the client. Therefore, there are no conflicts of interest. All trust accountings and most all tax work is completed in-house. Lastly, both firms employ highly skilled staff that continually train to hone their skills in order to serve clients diligently and professionally. 

Our thoughts are echoed by Steven Elliott, who commented, “Ultimately, Capstone is in the stewardship business, caring for that which is not ours as if it were our own. We were privileged to care for our clients and their respective assets and we are thrilled to partner with Northwest Trustee, who places the same importance on caring for people through the work of being a professional fiduciary.”

These shared values, are the foundation of any successful expansion or growth, and we look forward to continuing our outreach to those on the west side of the state with a physical office.

There is work ahead in our ongoing pursuit of fulfilling our mission to be recognized as the regional leader in personalized trust and management services. The recent addition of a Chief Fiduciary Officer is our next stop in fulfilling that vision; which leaves us with some explaining to do about this critical role in our company and will be the subject of the next newsletter.

Published March, 2022