Published on October 21, 2019 by the Pope County Tribune
With the motto of “We Care,” Glenwood State Bank has focused on community service, its employees, and its family values to grow in a way that positions the bank to better serve its customers and the local community.
The family-owned business, spanning 112 years in Glenwood, will be honored this week at the annual Salute to Business and Industry, hosted by the Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.
The bank’s local ownership allows them to turn their depositor’s dollars around and loan them out to others in the community. “We can help our friends and neighbors achieve things they might not have otherwise,” said Peter Nelson, president of Glenwood State Bank. The family-owned aspect of the business is also important to the succession and cultural atmosphere at the bank. “Our plan means we’ve agreed to keep bank stocks in the family, therefore, we can provide our customers with consistency and stability,” Nelson explained. “The family ownership is stable, committed to the community, and is 100 percent local.”
Local family ownership also has benefits for employees. Jordan McMahon, marketing manager at Glenwood State Bank, said “the ownership share the same values and priorities; they have a unified approach so the direction is clear.”
That philosophy has also led to the bank’s sustained growth. In 1997, Glenwood State Bank’s total assets were at $50 million. The bank’s total assets have grown six times that figure and now, in 2019, sit between $315 and $320 million.
According to the bank’s vision, Glenwood State Bank strives for “controlled growth in total assets, keeping profitability as the goal while never risking the overall safety of the institution.” That allows the bank to service the growth and needs of customers, community, and employees. “In additio, we anticipate being able to offer philanthropic activity toward the communities we serve,” it is stated in the bank’s vision statement.
And Glenwood State Bank’s growth has been “organic,” Nelson explained. “A lot of banks grow through mergers and acquisitions; our growth has come from earning business, not buying it,” he said. “Then that growth means more employees, providing more services as well as the ability to give back to the community,” he added.
Glenwood State Bank tries to attract more customers through its service, in addition to pricing. “Although we are very competitive, we earn business on our relationships,” Nelson added. Still, Nelson explained, the bank does have to be competitive, but said the relationship-based philosophy means the bank sees its customers as human beings, “not just another loan.” “And by trying to establish that relationship, it is good for both the bank and our customers,” Nelson added.
McMahon added that when she first sat in on a lending meeting at Glenwood State Bank, she was impressed with how much emphasis there was on the people and their situation. “Internally, what I saw changed my view of what being a community bank really means,” she said.
Nelson said: “We try to be aware of good times and bad times in our customers’ lives, and we try to walk along side them during both.”
Like most community banks, Glenwood State Bank plays a role in the community and can do some great things by not being purely driven by profit. “Because we live here, we deeply care about the community and people in it; they’ve blessed us and we hope we can be a blessing in return,” Nelson said.
Investing in Glenwood
In 2008, Glenwood State Bank opened a bank in Alexandria to expand the local border beyond Pope County. In 2017, the bank expanded and remodeled its Glenwood location after purchasing the Trumm Drug building.
The bank’s local investment in Glenwood’s building was substantial, “but we plan on being here for many generations so it made sense to invest here,” Nelson explained.
The building features a large community room overlooking Minnesota Avenue. Instead of one of the bank’s employees getting the large corner office, it was decided that it should be available to the people of Glenwood. The room is now available for use by the public, businesses and local organizations. “It’s a perfect example of the bank’s priorities,” said McMahon.
Employees also a priority
Glenwood State Bank has been listed a number of times as among the state’s best companies to work for. Nelson credits the bank’s employees and said GSB is fortunate to have great people sharing their talents on a daily basis. “For that we’re truly blessed,” he added.
The bank employs 74 people, with approximately 50 of them at the Glenwood location.
“They are making it happen day in and day out,” Nelson said. “They are among the most talented in banking and are good people with good hearts who understand the big picture,” Nelson said. The bank also provides more than just a workplace. It prioritizes employees and considers their family life. “We want an atmosphere where we not only care about our workers, but about their families too,” Nelson said.
A reputation of trust
Nelson said the bank’s growth over the years has been a blessing and gave God the credit. “Our reputation and our customer-first attitude has resonated with people and they tell others, and that word-of-mouth advertising is still the best form.”
He also stated that the bank is not afraid to take some chances on people and that helps its reputation spread quickly. “When you are willing to help someone when no one else is, it builds trust. This is the Community Bank difference.”
By: Tim Douglas