On March 23rd, 1998, myself, my wife Kelly, Ann Egeland, Tori Dahlberg, Bonnie Prazak, and Sandi Oachs opened the branch in Grantsburg. We had very little experience and no idea how busy we would be or how the community would accept us. The goal was to have 25 accounts and $500,000 in deposits by the end of April; we exceeded that by the end of the 1st week. Kelly was 7 months pregnant when we opened, and by the time our son Jackson was born on May 10th (Mother’s Day) we were so busy that Kelly was back in the office by Wednesday opening accounts with Jackson sleeping beside her.
The bank as a whole grew tremendously that year, both in Cameron and Grantsburg; we finished the year with over $22 Million in Total Assets (up from $17 Million the year before). Fast forward 25 years, and we continue to grow (both our family and the bank). We added two more kids, a daughter-in-law and two dogs. And now the bank has three branches, 39 employees, and over $175 Million in Total Assets. I think it is safe to say that our communities have more than accepted us; they have welcomed us.
So what has changed in banking over the past 25 years? Almost everything. Back then we primarily processed paper checks; now most of our transactions are electronic. People used to call the bank to see if we were open; now they call to get help resetting their online banking password. When we first started out we still typed our loan documents on a typewriter; now we use e-signatures. I used to have a bunch of phone messages to return when I was out of the office; now my email inbox is full.
That being said, some things at our bank will never change. We still believe our customers are people, not numbers. When you call us, we want you to feel that friendly smile through the telephone. When you apply for a loan, we want to find a way to say yes rather than look for a reason to say no. And most of all, we will always remember that serving our customers is the number one reason we are here.
Personally, I would like to thank everyone in our communities for an amazing 25 years. You have welcomed my family to this wonderful area, helped us make it our home, and we appreciate it more than you know.