When Linnea Janssen first started working at Farmers State Bank in Flandreau in 1977, she could never make plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Instead, she spent her New Year’s Eves assisting bankers with hand tabulating interest accruals at the end of each year.
“When I started, we didn’t have computers,” Janssen reminisced. “At the end of each year, we had to stay, all of the employees, and figure all of the accruals from the last payment or earned date to year-end on every single loan and interest-earning deposit account. We had to figure it by hand and balance. Everyone had their own job.”
While technology has drastically changed the banking industry over the course of Janssen’s 43-year career, one thing that hasn’t changed is her commitment to serving customers in all circumstances. As she prepares to retire at the end of 2020, she’ll leave behind a legacy of value-driven leadership and commitment to service.
“I loved working with people that I knew”
A lifelong resident of Flandreau, Janssen started her career in banking after college. Her first role as an administrative assistant grew into a career of serving her community.
“I didn’t really know if I was going to love customer-facing roles, you know, because I had not done that much before in my past,” Janssen said. “I started in that capacity and loved that I was working with people that I knew; not just my coworkers, but customers.”
Eventually she was promoted to the position of consumer lender, and later to lender and officer when Farmers State Bank became a sister bank of The First National Bank in Sioux Falls in the 1980s. In 2007, when Farmers State Bank merged with FNB, Janssen was named branch manager for the Flandreau branch, a position she held until 2017 when she became one of two retail team leads. Since then, she has overseen the personal banking teams across six of FNB’s branch locations: Flandreau, Dell Rapids, Baltic, Benson Road, Arrowhead, and Brandon.
“The day-to-day really looks like a lot of coaching and mentoring branch managers,” Janssen said. “I’m from Flandreau and of course I still get to serve the community that I love, that I grew up in, and that is important to me, but I get to help other managers figure out and learn how to have those same connections not only with their teammates, but also in their own communities, whether it’s the Sioux Falls branches or the communities we sit in.”
A career guided by FIRST Values
With a deep love for her community herself, Janssen couldn’t imagine working for a company that didn’t feel the same way. She credits the alignment between her personal values and FNB’s FIRST Values for her many years of service to the Bank and the community of Flandreau.
“First and foremost, our FIRST Values: Family, Independence & Innovation, Relationships, Stewardship, and Teamwork just are so much in sync with my own personal values and faith,” Janssen said. “I could not work for an organization that didn’t share what’s important to me – my values – and where I wouldn’t be able to live out those values. Every decision that we make keeps all those things in mind.”
The alignment between FNB’s First Values and Janssen’s personal values is evident to those who work with her too.
“Linnea lives our FIRST Values in almost everything she does,” Branch Manager of FNB’s Brandon location, Val Lemkau, said. “She dedicates hours to FNB and is always there to support team members at any time of the day. She contributes her thoughts and ideas to not only FNB, but also to the community of Flandreau.”
“Linnea has not only been my supervisor, but she has been a personal friend,” Carla Harris, Branch Manager of FNB’s Flandreau location, said. “She is a very caring person, no matter if it’s work, family, or the community. She is always willing to listen and to help out.”
43 years of building successful relationships
Janssen’s service to the community and her customers go hand-in-hand, with First National’s mission of building successful relationships at the heart of it all.
Bart Sample is the owner of Sparkle Car Wash, and has found success through his relationship with First National and working with Janssen.
“She has been our partner in Sparkle Car Wash since day one, even when we were second guessing ourselves,” Sample said. “In fact, she helped us put our business plan together and build the business from the word ‘go.’”
While Janssen has provided valuable advice and counsel to her customers when they ask her for it, she has also looked out for customers even when they weren’t expecting it.
“[First National has] my home mortgage,” Sample explained. “She called me up out of the blue and said, ‘I was looking at your mortgage and you have a 30-year mortgage. I’ve never seen interest rates this low. If we refinance to a 15-year, your payment will only be $50 a month more, but you’ll save a bunch of money in the end.’ So, we refinanced. She was actually looking out for us.”
That type of personal service has been a part of Janssen’s work since the beginning of her career. When Bev Wakeman’s husband died in 1981, she was left to figure out how to take care of her bank accounts, bills, and more, and Janssen came to the rescue.
“We’re very lucky to have her,” Wakeman said. “When [my husband] passed away, I was kind of left to fend for myself. Any problems I had she would go and help. She’s a loving person, I’d say. I know I’ll miss her.”
Even after moving from the Flandreau area five years ago, Dr. Gary Bruning still banks at FNB because of Janssen’s great service.
“If I needed to have something done, I knew I could go to her and get what I needed,” Bruning said. “She’s the best banker I’ve ever had. I live in Missouri now, but we still do our banking there because of the great service.”
After dedicating decades to First National, Janssen is anticipating an adjustment ahead, but looking forward to having more free time to do what she loves.
“We probably will do some traveling,” Janssen said. “We have two grandchildren. Right now while we’re working, we get to see them about once a month. It will be great to have the flexibility to attend more of their events, and spend valuable time as a family. Our oldest son lives farther west, so it will be fun to have time to drive there rather than fly so we can stop along the way. I love to quilt, but have not made time for that lately and I now have my mother’s piano. I will see how successful I am at picking those hobbies back up once again. I really want to do some more volunteering with our church, maybe some Bible studies. I will take one day at a time and see what comes my way.”
While she may no longer be working for the Bank, her strong commitment to her values and legacy of service will have a generational impact.
“I have learned so much from Linnea in the past five years,” Michelle Bunkers, Branch Manager of FNB’s Dell Rapids location, said. “I will forever treasure my time spent working with her. Linnea has been the best manager I have had in my 34 years of banking. I am a better person and manager due to her coaching and mentoring skills.”
Janssen’s last day at FNB will be Thursday, December 31. Due to COVID-19 precautions, FNB is not hosting an official retirement party gathering. However, First National invites any customers, colleagues, or friends of Janssen to wish her well into retirement.