Celebrate Community Banking Month

We asked community bankers what they love about their jobs—and it may not surprise you that they put value on more than just helping local residents and businesses succeed.

By William Atkinson

We all know what community banks do from day to day: They help power their local economies by offering banking services—especially loans—to local residents, businesses and other organizations. But when we asked community bankers what exactly makes their careers and banks so special, they seemed to view these day-to-day services as a given.

Instead, virtually all of the people we spoke to focused their thoughts on what their banks offer above and beyond the basics. And the majority emphasized what their communities give back to their towns and cities in terms of charitable giving—financially, as well as in volunteer services.

Dale Wentz, executive vice president and chief retail officer for QNB Bank in Quakertown, Pa., sums it up: “If a community organization needs a volunteer, they know they can pick up the phone and call us, and we will respond.”

Although community banking is about business first and foremost, what draws most executives to this industry—and keeps them here—is the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. Here they are, in their own words.


Benjamin T. Nelson


Senior vice president, residential mortgage lending,
D.L. Evans Bank
Location: Burley, Idaho
Assets: $1.3 billion

What do you like most about your job?
As a kid, I was taught, “Leave everything a little better than how you found it.” Growing up, I realized that this is more than just a campsite rule. As a community bank, we are involved with our customers and our community. Our knowledge and concern for them allows us to make both our customers and our community better than how we found them. There aren’t many jobs that allow you to experience that anymore.

What value does your bank bring to your community?
In my town, you can’t go anywhere without seeing a D.L. Evans bank logo. We sponsor all kinds of activities. You also can’t go to any event without running into a fellow [bank] worker who is heavily involved in making it a success. If you were to one day remove all of this support, I doubt that many of these good causes would survive.

What do you like most about the community banking industry?
We read stories all the time about companies shutting down plants or relocating to save money. Each time, they leave their town in shambles. Not us. In our industry, we are committed to our communities. We work hard to stay competitive and provide the best products and services for our customers. Our dedication allows our customers and our communities to grow. And, as they grow, we grow, too. It is a true win–win.

What value do community banks bring to the U.S. as
a whole?

We have all heard that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can also say that our nation is only as strong as our weakest communities. When you have strong communities, you have a strong country. Thanks to community banks and our focus on serving and strengthening where we live, we are keeping our communities healthy and strong. And that makes our nation stronger.


Wes Rouse


President, Hattiesburg market,
Magnolia State Bank
Location: Hattiesburg, Miss.
Assets: $300 million

What do you like most about your job?
I like that it allows me to be involved in the community where I was born and raised. My grandparents, parents and siblings all grew up in the community I serve. I have seen our community prosper over the past decade, and I am fortunate to have had a hand in that through my community banking experience.

What value does your bank bring to your community?
Our bank plays a major role in our community. Not only do we provide affordable banking services, we also support the Pine Belt through community partnerships and volunteerism, as well as donations to many organizations that rely on local support. We spend hours educating our community on financial literacy, and we employ members of the communities we serve.

What do you like most about the community banking industry?
I know that if you walk into any nonprofit organization in a community, you will have at least one, if not two, bankers on the board, giving back. We sit on church boards, nonprofits and local foundations to help these organizations through fundraising, volunteering and leadership.

What value do community banks bring to the U.S. as a whole?
Community banks are the engines in towns that drive economic development. They help the small business owners grow their businesses, they help to educate first-time homebuyers, and they provide financial services that benefit consumers in achieving lifelong dreams.


Tim J. Treml


President and CEO,
Bank of Luxemburg
Location: Luxemburg, Wis.
Assets: $308 million

What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about my job is that it really allows me to make people’s dreams come true, whether it is an 18-year-old buying a car, a young married couple buying their first house, or someone wanting to start [or] buy a business. When I go home at the end of the day and reflect on what we have accomplished, it gives me a good feeling.

What value does your bank bring to your community?
We have Bank of Luxemburg Care Days, which provides each employee with eight hours of paid time to volunteer per year for something in the community. We also provide an after-hours meeting space for local civic organizations.

What do you like most about the community banking industry?
As a whole, the industry is composed of a group of very involved people. If you look at membership in any community civic organization, chances are you will find at least one community banker involved in that organization, giving his or her time, and an employer encouraging that involvement.

What value do community banks bring to the U.S. as a whole?
Community banks are, in many ways, the economic engines of their communities, whether they are working with agriculture, manufacturing, or construction. They are also more willing to work with small businesses than a lot of the regional and national banks, and small business is where most of the job creation has been and is.


Dale Wentz


Executive vice president and
chief retail officer,
QNB Bank
Location: Quakertown, Pa.
Assets: Just over $1 billion

What do you like most about your job?
I believe in developing people, and this is what I like most about my job. As an executive, I have the opportunity to devote resources and project my commitment to the continued development of staff. It makes a difference in people’s lives.

What value does your bank bring to your community?
Every Friday, employees can donate two dollars and wear blue jeans for the day. Each year, we raise about $10,000 this way, and we donate that money to about two dozen different local charities. In addition, if a community organization needs a volunteer, they know they can pick up the phone and call us, and we will respond.

What do you like most about the community banking industry?
What I like about community banking is that it is about serving our community. We volunteer for a number of community functions. In fact, you see representatives from all of the community banks at community events.

What value do community banks bring to the U.S. as a whole?
If community banks did not exist, I think there would be a lot of frustrated bank customers. Community bank customers are accustomed to individual attention. Employees know them and their families. We coach their Little League teams. In addition, without community banks, a lot of nonprofits around the country would be hurting, not just monetarily but for volunteer help. The big banks can write a lot of big checks that the community banks can’t write, but you don’t see their employees working side-by-side at community events.


William Atkinson is a writer in Illinois.

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