2020 has prompted a lot of us to reflect on what we are best suited to be doing and where we’re most suited to do it. For me, it is serving as Green Bay Market President for Investors Community Bank.
It's a fairly recent development in a year unlike any other most of us have experienced. I joined the Investors Community Bank team in November after what I joked was probably the next-shortest retirement in Green Bay history - next to Brett Favre's, that is. But it’s for good reason. After a successful 30-year career in commercial banking – including 25 of those years in Green Bay – I retired from a midsized regional bank. I was drawn to the opportunity to return to my roots in community banking, embracing practices I learned as a young banker before banking underwent so many mergers and acquisitions and the establishment of mega-sized banks.
Community banks such as Investors Community Bank are not only banks, but small businesses as well. We understand that the livelihood of our customers has a direct correlation to the livelihood of our bank. I was drawn to Investors because it is large enough to have the products and services business owners need while small enough to deliver those products and services and make decision locally. That’s becoming a rarity in the banking industry.
At one time, when every bank had its own charter and operated as a small business, they, too, walked in their business customers’ shoes, you could say. At Investors, we still understand what daily life is like for individuals and businesses in Northeast Wisconsin. We understand our markets, which are definitely not the same as they are in large cities or other areas of the country. We are here and ready for to meet with our business customers when it is convenient for them including early morning and late in the evening.
Our commercial bankers are knowledgeable, accessible and integrally involved in the bank’s decision-making, including the underwriting decision. Our loan decisions are made locally. The deposits we take in remain in the community re-invested in the form of business loans to other community members. I was fortunate in my prior work to have an incredibly large deposit base, but because of the centralized decision-making, much of that money was loaned in other communities.
I like the idea of it “sticking around” to help the people and businesses with whom I develop relationships. I value that the staffing, sponsorships and other donations in Northeast Wisconsin are made right here in Northeast Wisconsin. I’m proud to be part of a solid, community-oriented company that walks its talk every day in how it conducts business, as well as in supporting community through volunteer hours and financial support. From 2017 to 2019, Investors contributed $1.2 million in sponsorships and donations in the Northeast Wisconsin communities it serves; that’s significant. Investors also encourages employees to volunteer in the community and gives them paid time off each year to do it. Personally, I am vested in the Greater Green Bay community through service on a number of boards and committees. I am excited about the impact that Investors can make in our community in 2021 through our donations, sponsorships and volunteering.
I’ve seen the Greater Green Bay community grow significantly in the last 25 years and am proud to have played a part in that by connecting people to each other. By the insights gleaned from cross-industry experience and lending money to help businesses grow, I have created long-term relationships. I have worked primarily with small- and medium-sized businesses and built successful relationships with clients in many industries.
In my new role, I look forward to continuing to add value to small- to medium-sized businesses and targeting the manufacturing, construction and transportation and logistics industries. The benefit of my diverse commercial lending background is in what I have learned from each relationship. Best practices affiliated with successful companies are best practices no matter what industry you are in, be it maximizing cash flow or sustaining your business through inevitable business cycles.
I have worked with mom-and-pop businesses and large, publicly traded corporations, and there is something to be said for the perspective I’ve gained through experience and knowledge of both. It comes down to having the continuity of good, solid relationships with customers - rooted in collaboration and helping each other – and I have learned that's a Midwestern thing. I’ve lived in Miami and have friends on the West and East Coasts. When I share a story about the lengths I have gone to help a customer, their response is “Why would you do that for somebody?” My answer is, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” That’s what keeps me in Northeast Wisconsin, motivates me to help businesses grow and flourish and makes working at Investors such a good fit.
For me, my best days as a commercial banker are those when I see my clients grow and succeed! Whether it is in bringing products or services they’ve worked diligently on to market or as a member of the supply chain for someone else’s product, seeing them succeed is what has kept me doing this for 30 years. I’ve worked with manufacturers with 10 employees and 5,000 square feet of space and helped them grow to hundreds of employees and 100,000 square feet...trucking companies that started with two trucks and grown to 50 trucks...I thrive on utilizing the knowledge that I’ve learned from one client to help another.
My previous clients know that I’m a relationship-oriented person, not someone just trying to make a loan and move on to the next opportunity ... and there’s an important difference there. Many financial institutions are transaction oriented. Call me old school, but I am relationship-oriented - and a great fit for the community bank culture lived every day at Investors Community Bank.