BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN For 110 years, State Bank of Delano has been serving customers throughout the area.
Over 88 years, CorTrust Bank has evolved from one location in Artesian, SD, to a total of 16 locations in South Dakota and three in Minnesota.
Soon, likely in August following regulatory approval, State Bank of Delano will become the fourth CorTrust Bank in Minnesota.
“We see our potential and the potential for Delano,” State Bank of Delano President Wendy Gilmer said. “We have found a partner that recognizes our strengths and values, where we are going as a community and as an organization . . . We are proud of our heritage, who we are, and where we are going.”
“This was not an easy decision,” Chairman Steve Gilmer added. “We feel great loyalty to our employees, our customers, and our community. We have always had tremendous respect for them. I witness the goodwill that their approach generates. We are grateful to be a part of this organization.”
CorTrust President and CEO Jack Hopkins said he believes the local bank will fit well into his organization.
“Delano has a lot of things in common with the other communities we’re in, like Woodbury, Blaine, and Brooklyn Park,” Hopkins said. “It’s a very progressive town. It seems to fit well with our organization as far as the type of customers and businesses they do business with.”
CorTrust was appealing to the State Bank of Delano leadership for a number of reasons.
“Their organization, as a whole, is similar to us,” Wendy Gilmer said. “They’re three generations of leadership. We’re four generations of leadership. They’ve been around nearly 90 years. We’ve been around 110 years. The way they handle their customers, they treat each community that they’re in with its own uniqueness and want to enhance the customer experience in terms of products and services, while also having a high level of customer service that you’d expect from community banks.”
Enhanced products and services include mobile deposit services, CorTrust’s ability to service mortgage loans rather than selling them to a third party, insurance services, credit card services, enhanced online banking and online bill-pay services, and membership to CorClub Travel and Social Event Group that offers savings for travel and events for qualifying customers 40 or older.
“We know that there are enhancements to our services that will be required as we move into the future,” Wendy Gilmer said. “Being a part of a larger organization allows us to offer additional products and enhancements for our customers.”
It will also allow local employees to receive enhanced benefits and be able to participate in the employee stock ownership plan.
“Employees are key to making the merger work,” Hopkins said. “We strive to keep them all on board. We don’t want to lose anyone. Obviously, there are a lot of happy customers there, so they must service them well.”
Other opportunities may also be available for employees at the other three Minnesota locations, as well as throughout the CorTrust organization.
Though the other CorTrust locations in Minnesota are in larger communities, the Delano location will be the largest in terms of assets $90 million which will increase CorTrust’s assets to about $890 million.
“We are the largest location in Minnesota, and we can bring a lot of leadership,” Wendy Gilmer said. “We do a lot of things very well, and they’ve acknowledged that and appreciate that. It’s one of the strengths of our organization, and it’s something they want to build on with us. I know we’ve got great employees, and the opportunities within the organization and for Delano will certainly be increased and enhanced by this.”
What can customers expect?
Immediately following the purchase, they will receive a letter from CorTrust detailing how to convert accounts to similar accounts offered by CorTrust, as well as information about additional account options.
Hopkins doesn’t expect customers to see much of a change.
“I don’t think customers will notice differences in the people or the services provided, other than we’ll be able to provide more services and products than they currently have,” Hopkins said. “Hopefully, we won’t see any declines in any of the other areas. I don’t anticipate we will. I think this will be a win-win for the Delano staff and Delano customers.”
One thing that will change will be the name of the local bank, to match the corporate name.
“This is necessary to reflect all of the communities that we serve,” Wendy Gilmer said. “Trust is at the core of our banking relationships. We hope that our customers will embrace the new name.”
Hopkins added that CorTrust was initially Livestock State Bank, but changed to CorTrust Bank in 1993, because the previous name was limiting the organization and the public’s perception of the services it provided and the customers it served.
That history, and the fact that CorTrust serves cities ranging in population from 129 to more than 183,000 is an indication of the type of bank it is, as noted by Wendy Gilmer.
“They grew up in community banking and, at its core, it’s a community bank,” she said. “They are in small towns and larger towns, and truly understand the community bank model. That’s a big deal: how you approach customers, the community, and employees.”