By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, MN The friendly face three generations of families have grown accustomed to behind the counter of Citizens State Bank in Waverly belongs to Frances (Fran) Luhman of Howard Lake.
Luhman has worked at the bank 40 years, and has watched the children of her first customers grow up, start families of their own, and then bring in their children to start bank accounts.
“I started Aug. 14, 1972, almost right out of high school,” Luhman said.
The bank will be celebrating Luhman’s 40 years of service Tuesday, Aug. 14 during business hours. There will be appetizers and beverages available throughout the day, and a light lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It has been wonderful to have someone from the community with that longevity,” said Birdie Jackson, owner of Citizens State Bank. “We were in high school together, I was a year ahead. We’ve grown up working together, too.”
Jackson noted she was excited to have a day to celebrate Luhman’s time at the bank.
After graduating from high school, Luhman was not considering a job in the banking business. In fact, her older sister was in the process of lining up a job for her at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.
However, one day she received a call from her high school superintendent, who asked her if she wanted a job at Citizens State Bank in Waverly.
The bank was looking for tellers, and Dan Graham, the owner of the bank, had called the superintendent to ask if he knew of any girls who might want to work there.
Luhman agreed to go in for an interview with Graham, and was hired on the spot, she said.
“Dan and Ardis (Graham’s wife) were wonderful people to work for I’ve enjoyed it,” Luhman said.
Luhman has also enjoyed her coworkers over the years, some of whom have retired.
Luhman takes pride in the customer service skills she has built over the years.
“I like to form a customer relationship so when they come to the bank, I kind of know what they are looking for or what they need,” Luhman said. “I like to help them solve problems and issues.”
“People come in just to see her,” said Operations Officer Kent Houston, who has worked with Luhman for 15 years. “She’s done a really nice job of developing relationships with bank customers she’s very trusted.”
He noted that Luhman does a lot to make the bank in Waverly what it is.
“I enjoy what I am doing,” Luhman added, noting she enjoys meeting and interacting with customers every day.
Some of her endearing interactions come when children want to know what happens to their money when they put it in the bank.
Luhman explains to them where their money goes, and how it is tracked in their bank book.
“Sometimes I let them look through the door of the vault to show where their money’s at,” Luhman said.
Over the years, she has had the opportunity to get to know a lot of people through her job, and runs into someone she knows nearly every time she is out and about. “That’s what makes my day and job so enjoyable, when you go out and people meet and greet you,” Luhman said.
Throughout the years, there have been a number of changes in banking, such as recently going paperless.
However, customers, who may not always be very tech-savvy, can choose how they would like to see their statements, Luhman noted.
Another recent change is the ability of customers to open their own banking accounts online from home.
One constantly changing item is interest rates, which is one area customers are always concerned about. “That’s what they lived on years ago. Now, it’s taken a dip and it’s not there,” Luhman said.
Although she has seen some interesting things over the years, Luhman did not share them at this time.
“I always said, when I retire someday, I’m going to write a book,” Luhman joked.