Humble Star

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Todd Langenfeld finds respect and success outside the limelight

By Ed Avis

Some top business executives like being in the spotlight. Todd Langenfeld, president and CEO of Farmers Trust & Savings Bank in Earling, Iowa, prefers being behind the camera. In fact, he can be found on the sidelines of Harlan Community High School football games on Friday nights in the fall, behind the camera documenting games for the coaches.

“I’ve been filming the games for five years,” Langenfeld says. “I had been going to every game already, because my sons played football, and when the guy who was filming retired, I took over.” His two sons have since graduated from high school, but Langenfeld is still at the games, camera in hand.

“Todd’s sons are gone from the high school, but he’s still giving back,” comments Justin Wagner, superintendent of the Harlan Community School District. “He’s just a very humble, very loyal community member.”

Langenfeld’s commitment to his community, and his success in expanding Farmers Trust & Savings Bank, has earned him the honor of being named ICBA’s Central Region Community Banker of the Year.

“You will never hear Todd talk about his own accomplishments,” offers McKenzie Bieker, Farmers Trust’s human resources officer and one of Langenfeld’s two daughters. “Although he always gives much more than he takes, most people will never know.”

Fourth generation
Farmers Trust & Savings Bank was cofounded by Langenfeld’s great-grandfather in 1892. His great-uncle and father also ran the bank in the subsequent decades, so it seems natural that he would eventually land in the front office himself. But that wasn’t always his plan.

“I graduated from high school in 1978, and my whole life I thought I wanted to be a doctor,” he says. “So I went to the University of Iowa and took premed classes.”

However, an exacting chemistry class dissuaded him from a career in medicine. In the summer of 1980, while working part-time at another community bank in Iowa City while pursuing a business degree in industrial relations and a minor in finance, Langenfeld received an unexpected visit at work from his father. At the height of the agricultural crisis of the 1980s, his father asked him to return home to Earling to provide extra hands needed to run the family’s bank.

Within six months of returning home, Langenfeld took over agriculture and real estate lending. In 1989, when he was just shy of 30, he became president and CEO after his father retired.

When Langenfeld took over Farmers Trust & Savings, it had $15 million in assets and one location, in Earling, population 400. Under his leadership, the bank added a location in Woodbine, about 20 minutes away, in 1998. And seven years later it expanded to Harlan, about 20 minutes in the other direction. Today the community bank has $90 million in assets.

“In a town of 400 people, the big boys like U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo are not going to call on the small farmers and mom-and-pop businesses like we do,” Langenfeld says. “So you still need community banks here.”

Spade Work—Todd Langenfeld (center left) helps community leaders break ground on renovations to a local high school sports field and stadium.

Spade Work—Todd Langenfeld (center left) helps community leaders break ground on renovations to a local high school sports field and stadium.

“In a town of 400 people, the big boys like U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo are not going to call on the small farmers and mom-and-pop businesses like we do. So you still need community banks here.”
—Todd Langenfeld, Farmers Trust & Savings Bank

As the name implies, lending to farmers and related businesses is Farmers Trust’s primary business. In 2000 the bank launched a “master loan” program for farmers, which allows those customers to access a line of credit for seed, fertilizer and other such needs with just a phone call, rather than having to sign a new note.

“Our bread and butter is the small farmer,” Langenfeld says.

Outside the bank
Like many successful community bank presidents, Langenfeld spreads his talents as a leader and fundraiser among many local organizations. He just finished serving five years as president, and is still a director, of the Shelby County Health Foundation. He also served 15 years on the local hospital board with which he helped lead an effort to fund a new wellness center by the local hospital. He helped the Harlan Community School District Education Foundation raise $2.2 million for a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program, new band instruments and the renovation of a high school sports complex. Deeply involved with youth athletic programs, he helped raise $50,000 to add lights and bleachers to the town’s baseball diamond.

Moreover, Langenfeld says he is particularly proud of his involvement as a founding board member, contributor and fundraiser for the Shelby County Community Foundation in 1999. Grown to $3.4 million in assets, the foundation has given $2.1 million to local charities throughout Shelby County.

“He cares about people, honestly and truly,” Bieker says. “People view him as someone whom they can ask for help, and he’s always willing to do it.”

And Bieker says her father’s skill with the video camera at football games extends to home.

“He was always at any event we had, always filming,” she says. “He put together videos for all our graduation parties, and took pictures from all of our first days of school and put them into videos. He’s the best dad.”

Langenfeld may not seek the spotlight, but his efforts at the bank, in his community, and at home have earned him a well-deserved moment in the sun. “It takes a certain type of person to give so much back to their community—not because they have to, but solely because they care that much about the people and the place they live,” Bieker adds. “He does what he does for the reason he genuinely believes it’s the right thing to do.”

Meet Todd Langenfeld

  • Family: Four children, friend Janice
  • Birthplace: Harlan, Iowa
  • Birthday: November 1959
  • Education: Harlan High School, University of Iowa
  • Best career advice: Ralph Radcliffe, Iowa City banker, advised Langenfeld to return home to run the family’s bank.
  • Personal interests: golfing, fishing, pool, architecture
  • Favorite quote: JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you. …”
  • Unusual talent: A former top billiards player
  • Something in his office: Picture of the Blue Angels flying past the Twin Towers in June 2001. Jerry Deren, a family friend, is flying in the formation.
  • First job: Teller
  • First mentor: Father, Mark Langenfeld

Ed Avis is a writer in Illinois.


shaz-logo-cmyk-hi-res-jpgAs the exclusive sponsor of the ICBA Community Banker of the Year Awards, SHAZAM is proud to recognize this year’s winners for their passion for community banking and commitment to truly making a difference in the markets they serve.

For more information about SHAZAM, visit their website at www.shazam.net

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