15 Minutes With… Kenny Martin

Photo: Tom Robertson

Kenny Martin

Former president of First Bank of Lincoln in Lincoln, Mont., and now market manager for the $689 million-asset Citizens Alliance Bank

IB: Tell us about your early career.
Martin: I was running back at William & Mary during the early 1980s. After graduation, I coached football there for three seasons but then decided to get into banking. I was manager of the retail mortgage banking operations for several banks, which were all acquired by Chase. I left because I didn’t like the big bank culture, and worked for a smaller mortgage company.

IB: Why did you move to Montana?
Martin: My wife and I had come here for vacation and fell in love with it. We bought a guest ranch, but it only took me two years to figure out that it wasn’t a good idea for us. It was a great lifestyle, but there was just a lot of competition from a lot of other guest ranches.

Quick facts

  • Kenny Martin, a former football coach at the College of William & Mary, went to Montana on vacation and ended up president of First Bank of Lincoln.
  • In 2016, the bank was sold to Citizens Alliance Bank of Clara City, Minn.

IB: What led you to First Bank of Lincoln?
Martin: I had an account there, and one day the chairman of the board said he had heard I had been in banking and wanted to know if I wanted to get back into it. I was hired as a lender in 2003, and then about a year later I was named president after the former one retired.

IB: What did you like about being the head of a small bank?
Martin: I was steering the ship, and it was fun. When I started, we had about $9 million in assets, but now we have close to $30 million. We couldn’t have grown like that if we hadn’t been bought by Citizens Alliance Bank, which gave us a much larger lending limit. I now make loans all over western Montana, including participation loans with other banks I know from when I was an officer for the Montana Independent Bankers.

Lincoln is a town of 1,000 at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and it’s an outdoor recreational town for mountain hiking, hunting and fishing trips. We also still have plenty of ranchers. I enjoy the small town environment; I ride horses with my customers and have helped them calve and ship. I know pretty much everyone in town, and we try to help people as much as we can.

—Katie Kuehner-Hebert