15 Minutes With… Bob Bauman

President of the $80 million-asset Financial Security Bank in Kerkhoven, Minn., and an avid scuba diver

IB: What do you like about
scuba diving?

Bauman: When you’re underwater, it gives you a chance to separate from the rest of the world and enjoy a life-sized aquarium. Every September, I go to Key Largo with a [community banker] friend who also dives, and we get up early, have breakfast, go scuba diving, work on our videos to post on YouTube or Facebook, go out for dinner, then the next morning get up and do it over again.

IB: Did you use scuba in your work as a volunteer EMT?

Bauman: I did use scuba to recover some bodies, but I never rescued anyone as part of the search-and-rescue team. I was a volunteer EMT in Kerkhoven for 25 years. I’d be sitting in my office, my pager would go off, I’d take my suit coat off and go do what I had to do. I remember the emergency room doctor saying, “Wow, you guys really dress up for your ambulance runs.” But that’s what you do in a small town; it’s all part of being a community banker.

IB: What kind of lending do you do at Financial Security Bank?

Bauman: Manufacturing and health care are two areas we focus on, but we also do a lot of church financing. A lot of banks shy away from that, because they don’t want to foreclose on a church. But we have criteria that help us feel comfortable with lending to churches. And if we can’t take a church on, we’ll guide them so that they can become bankable. For example, we know how much debt per giving unit [church member] is reasonable, and we’ll share that with the leadership of the church.

IB: What about ag lending?

Bauman: We do a lot of loans for corn and soybeans and a fair amount of dairy. We’ve had two situations where a dairy farmer was near the end of his career, and the kids wanted to move back and help, but the farm couldn’t support all of them. We financed robotics so they could increase their herd and milk three times a day instead of twice. That allowed the farm to support all of them.

Quick facts

  • Bauman retired from EMT service a decade ago but has performed citizen CPR five times since then.
  • He once used his scuba skills to help recover an airplane that had crashed into a lake almost 50 years earlier.

—Ed Avis