By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN “It’s important for the community to know that Citizens Alliance Bank and Security State Bank of Howard Lake were sister banks, with common owners,” said Jeff Berghuis, president of Citizens Alliance Bank. “The shareholders for the bank are still the same.”
Security State Bank was merged into Citizens Alliance Bank at the end of business Oct. 14.
Citizens Alliance Bank was purchased by C. R. Forstrom in 1955, and Forstrom Bancorporation was formed in 1982, as a parent, or holding corporation to be used as a conduit for future bank acquisitions.
Forstrom Bancorporation bought Security State Bank from Omar and Verna Glessing in 1983, but it continued to operate under its own charter.
Both banks are well capitalized and profitable through these difficult economic times, according to Berghuis.
However, the board of directors of both banks felt it was the right time to merge Security State Bank into Citizens Alliance Bank.
The purpose of the merger is to improve the operating efficiencies at both banks, Berghuis said.
“We want to make sure that the decisions we make benefit the communities we serve,” Berghuis said. “We are here to serve the community and the residents within the community.”
The two banks complement each other well, with Security State Bank having dealt mostly with real estate and commercial lending, and Citizens Alliance Bank dealing mostly with agricultural lending, Berghuis said.
The merger allows for the combination of the expertise of employees at both banks, as well as establishing a more diverse portfolio for each, Berghuis added.
Some of the changes occurring with the new name are a different bank president and adding a branch manager.
Berghuis is the president of Citizens Alliance Bank, and has been since 2000. He has been with Forstrom Bancorporation since 1973.
Steve Halverson, who was the vice president of Security State Bank, is now the branch manager for the Howard Lake and Watertown branches of Citizens Alliance Bank.
John Forstrom, former president of Security State Bank, will move into an office upstairs at the bank building.
Forstrom will be employed by Forstrom Bancorporation, overseeing the investment portfolio for Citizens Alliance Bank.
Other than those changes, customers should not notice much of a difference.
“The ownership, employees, branch locations, and commitment to our customers and communities will not change,” Berghuis said.
After the merger, Citizens Alliance Bank has just under $430 million in assets.
Citizens Alliance Bank has approximately 87 employees, many of them long-term.
With the addition of Howard Lake and Watertown, Citizens Alliance Bank now has seven locations, including Clara City, Maynard, Granite Falls, Lake Lillian, and Echo.
This is the third merger for Citizens Alliance Bank since 2005, Berghuis said.
The First State Bank of Lake Lillian was merged with Citizens Alliance Bank in 2005, and the Yellow Medicine County Bank of Granite Falls was merged in 2007.