When it comes to picking a bank, it might seem like they’re all the same: a safe place for you to keep your money or get a loan. While the essential parts of what banks do might be the same, it’s the why they do what they do that makes all the difference.
For The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, our ‘why’ is simple: we build successful relationships. We want our customers, our teammates, and our communities to be successful. While how we’ve carried out our mission has changed throughout our history, our why has stayed the same, guided by our FIRST Values.
As we celebrate 135 years of business this September, here’s a look at our FIRST Values and a few stories about how they’ve gotten us to where we are today.
F – Family
The first letter of our values acronym reflects one of the most important parts of our FNB: we are family-owned.
The Bank’s holding company, Minnehaha Banshares, is owned by the shareholders, mainly Baker and Kuehn family members. Although only two Baker family members are involved in the daily Bank operations today, the decisions we make, how we treat each other, and how we treat our customers all reflect our family ownership.
This past year, we shared the story of Credit Analyst Team Leader, Annette Brandt. Through the adoption of her son, Annette felt our value of Family firsthand. Director of Corporate Affairs, Bob Baker, wrote a letter of support of the adoption and FNB hosted a baby shower. Today, she sees that the value of Family is evident in more than just the relationship between employees.
“I realized through this process that my work family has been by my side the whole time,” Annette says. “Just like they are for the community, customers, and entrepreneurs that they serve every day.”
I – Independence and Innovation
No business will last long without the ability to find new ways to solve problems and meet the changing needs of their customers. Through our values of Independence and Innovation, we’ve found new ways to serve our customers through good times and bad since 1885 – longer than South Dakota has been a state.
From two World Wars, the farm crisis of the 1980s, or the economic recession of 2008, every generation of FNB leadership has had a test. In early 2020, COVID-19 transitioned from an unimaginable problem to an immediate threat to the people and businesses we serve. While the severity of the crisis was unexpected, that didn’t mean we couldn’t handle it. We’ve always been ready for whatever comes next.
This time, that meant FNB teammates working many days until midnight or after to give a lifeline to small businesses through Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The program provided government-backed loans to businesses facing dire financial conditions as a result of the pandemic; however, it was the responsibility of banks to administer the program, which was totally new to banking institutions across the country. Banks had to form new application processes all while guidance from the SBA and Treasury changed almost daily leading up to the program’s launch. While larger banks began turning customers away, FNB continued to help small businesses in the fight against COVID-19.
“Our lights were on and employees were present, which could not be said for other downtown banks in the area,” Business Banker and SBA Hub Team Leader Jon Erickson said. “There was a combined feeling of uncertainty, chaos, and exhaustion…yet also incredible teamwork and satisfaction that we were going above and beyond to assist our customers.”
Since the program’s opening date, FNB has helped more than 860 businesses through processing upwards of $100 million in PPP loans and protecting the paychecks of more than 10,500 small business employees.
R – Relationships
The core of what we do as a financial institution is build successful relationships with our customers, our teammates, and our communities. That value, Relationships, is at the center of everything we do.
As an independent, local bank, the relationships we’ve built connect us to the communities we serve. We know that our lending decisions have tremendous cumulative impact. They can help pay the salaries of a small business’s employees, bring in new businesses, or help a farmer expand his livestock production. By building those relationships, we’ve helped enhance our communities. From the ‘Outstanding’ rating on our most recent Community Reinvestment Act exam to being named Small Business Lender of the Year, it’s clear the relational nature in which FNB operates is what sets us apart.
That difference is part of the reason Jeremy Brown, founder and owner of Throne Publishing Group, trusted The First National Bank in Sioux Falls with his business banking. When his biggest training launch was canceled because of COVID-19, a PPP loan was vital to his business.
“When we applied, I got a call from our banker, Nick Bentele, at 9:30 at night; he was working on our loan,” Brown said. “I couldn’t believe it. As an entrepreneur, you have more skin in the game than anyone else, but I felt like my banker, our bank, and our CPA firm care about our business as much as we do. That’s an even bigger deal than the loan. It changes the game for us.”
Deeply caring about the success of customers and communities is the hallmark of community banks like FNB and something that big banks just don’t have.
“The heart of independent community banking is based on customer relationships, many of those relationships spanning multiple generations,” Megan Olson, President and CEO of Independent Community Bankers of South Dakota (ICBSD), said. “Your banker might also be your neighbor, a fellow volunteer, or a member of your church. Because of this intimate understanding and level of involvement, no one understands their customers’ needs better than an independent community banker.”
S – Stewardship
The history of FNB and the history of the Sioux Falls community have always been interwoven. As a result, we have a culture committed to lending and investing in the community. Our value of Stewardship has continually guided us to reinvest in our communities with our ideas, time, talents, and treasures to make them better places to live.
“We are extraordinary stewards, builders, and sustainers of the community we are so incredibly fortunate to have here in Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas we serve,” Board Chairman Bill Baker said.
This stewardship-driven culture led to The First National Bank in Sioux Falls to receive its second consecutive ‘Outstanding’ rating on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) examination by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
From 2016-2018, 51 of our 270 employees volunteered 2,788 hours with more than 25 non-profit service organizations aimed at benefiting low- to moderate-income individuals. Our bankers originated 30 Community Development (CD) loans totaling $41.5 million, in addition to the Bank’s $12.4 million in CD investments and donations during that same period.
Aside from financially reinvesting in the community, we’ve committed to building our communities with our time. Annually, the Bank offers 12 hours of Volunteer Time Off (VTO) as a benefit to full-time employees. FNB’s 270 employees volunteer for many different nonprofit and service organizations in the Sioux Falls area.
This year, we’re celebrating our anniversary and our Stewardship Value all at the same time with our annual #FNBGiveFirst competition. Stay tuned for more ways we’re celebrating throughout the month of September and the rest of the year!
T – Teamwork
We believe that serving our customers with excellence is everybody’s responsibility. Our work as a local financial institution is important and it is not something we can do as individuals. We carry out our mission as an entire team. That’s why we value Teamwork.
Although all of us at FNB have different jobs, we have one common goal: the success of our customers. We’re committed to working as a team to make that happen. Most recently, we delivered for our customers in what was an extraordinary team effort. While businesses faced dire financial circumstances during COVID-19, FNB rose to the challenge. FNB teammates from all over the Bank came together and worked many long hours.
“I have never seen all the FIRST Values of the Bank working so closely together before this PPP process,” Business Banker Justin Zandstra said. “Teamwork was clear in every aspect as we were all in this together. Everyone knew what needed to be done, and we were able to do it. Those values are what kept the spirits high throughout this process.”
Not only do we work as a team to take care of our customers, but we’re a team that takes care of each other.
“I don’t just think about how we take care of our customers, we also take care of each other,” Benson Road Branch Manager Cindy Woltjer said. “We are all in it to help each other and our customers be successful and achieve their dreams. We’re all a big FNB family. If I don’t have the answer, I always know I can go to someone who does.”
As we look back on the last 135 years, we’re thankful for all we’ve accomplished and the people we’ve served. We’re a Bank that’s built on values, and that’s what has made all the difference. We’ve got a history of being a great place to bank, and we’re excited to keep making the greater Sioux Falls area a great place to live.