June 30, 2016 by Caitlin Ware
Since 1931, the Guthrie County State Bank has been one of the financial institutions serving the Guthrie Center area. And this summer, the bank is celebrating its 85th anniversary in combination with the official grand opening of its new location at 413 State Street.
In honor of the anniversary, the bank has been running a giveaway dubbed “$85 for 85 days.” The giveaway started on May 23, and on every day between then and Sept. 21 — excluding weekends and holidays — one bank customer is picked randomly to receive $85. Bank President Mike Underwood has been in charge of calling the winners, and so far, his favorite scenario has been when he had to call one recipient’s mother first to get their contact information. She was convinced that her son must be in trouble if the bank president was looking for him.
“Needless to say, when he and I first talked, he was a little hesitant,” Underwood said. “But once I explained to him what was going on, he was pretty excited.”
In addition to the giveaway, the bank is hosting several open houses to celebrate. The first, held on June 27, was for bank team members and shareholders. An open house for local businesses will be held on June 29, and on July 9, there will be a public open house with cookies, beverages and tours of the new building.
Staff members have also been given four hours of paid time off to go out and volunteer for a local charity of their choice any time between now and the end of the year.
“We kind of pride ourselves on the amount of community service we do, it’s something that is unofficially expected,” Underwood said.” Last year, we had well over 3,000 hours of service from our team.”
As president since 2012, Underwood reflected on some of the bank’s history leading up to its 85th anniversary.
ORIGINAL BANK OPENS
The first branch of Guthrie County State Bank opened its doors on Oct. 17, 1931 with a staff of just three people. At the time, the $30,000 capital needed for the bank was put up by G.M. Barnett Sr. and a group of local citizens. Barnett went on to become the bank’s first president, and remained so for 28 years. To this point, the bank has only had five presidents.
G.M. Barnett, Jr. came to the Bank as vice president in October 1950, and became president to succeed his father May 1959, until January 31, 1983.
J. I. Vandevanter started as an assistant cashier on the opening of the bank in 1931, and became Manager of the Panora Office in October 1937. He was appointed vice president in January 1946.
Helen Gibbons became bookkeeper and assistant cashier on the opening of the bank in 1931, and held these positions until her retirement in December 1964.
Roger Underwood came to the bank in August 1969, as an asssistant cashier, was elected cashier in 1972, vice president and cashier in 1976. On January 31, 1983, Roger Underwood became president and Chairman of the Board. He served as president until January 2004. He still serves as Chairman of the Board today.
Barry Monaghan joined the bank in 1984, as assistant vice president. He was then named executive vice president and became president and chief executive officer in January 2004. Today, Monaghan serves as chief development officer, president of Guthrie County Bancshares, and board member of Guthrie County State Bank.
Michael Underwood joined the bank in 2005 as chief financial officer and executive vice president. In 2012, he was named the fifth president of Guthrie County State Bank. He was named chief executive officer in 2013 and continues to serve in that role.
GUTHRIE COUNTY BANCSHARES, INC. FORMED
Guthrie County Bancshares, Inc. was created in January of 1983 by a group of local citizens. The “one-bank holding company” purchased the majority stock of the Guthrie County State Bank. Now in 2016, the group still holds 100 percent of the original bank stock.
PANORA BRANCH OPENS
In 1998, the bank moved toward expansion by opening a branch in Panora to better serve the community in the Panora and Lake Panorama area. Today, the location employs 10 people.
“That [was] a huge one for us,” Underwood said. “Just the opportunities that provided.”
LAKE PANORAMA REALTY
In the same year that the Guthrie County State Bank Panora branch opened, Lake Panorama Realty got started as well. The Guthrie County Bancshares, Inc. purchased Lake Panorama Realty and created an office inside of the new bank building in Panora. When it first opened there were two real estate agents employed. Now, there are four employees, including two real estate agents, an office manager and a broker.
GUTHRIE COUNTY INVESTMENT CENTER
The Guthrie County Investment Co. was created in July of 2003 to help provide customers with stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and other investment products. When it first opened, Larry Bergemann was the original Investment Advisor for this business. After Bergemann retired in 2012, Kristen Crouthamel took over what is now called the GCSB Investment Center. She works as the Investment Advisor and has offices in both bank buildings in Guthrie Center and Panora.
GUTHRIE COUNTY ABSTRACT
In 2008, the Guthrie County Bancshares, Inc. purchased both Guthrie County Abstract and Beverly Wild Abstracting. The two companies merged and kept the name Guthrie County Abstract. The former owner, Judy Hilgenberg, still leads the business.
FIRST ATM AND MOBILE BANKING
The bank’s first ATM machine was installed in Hometown Foods when Mike Underwood’s father Roger was the president. However, the bank issued debit and ATM cards before the machine was installed, which “wasn’t the smartest move,” Underwood said. But once installation caught up to distribution, it allowed people to access their money outside of the bank lobby, and reduced teller traffic.
“[It] provided customers a little more convenience,” Underwood said. “You didn’t have to come in and get cash. That was part of it, accessibility to your cash, whether you be in Des Moines, or anywhere.”
The next step towards technological advancement came with internet banking, followed by mobile banking in 2014. To appeal to a younger generation of bank users, the bank had a mobile app created so that users can check their balances and make transactions from their cell phones.
“I think we’ve acquired some customers that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to, the thought being the millennials do everything with the phone,” Underwood said. “So we’ve worked hard to ensure we have that suite of products that works well for them.”
BANK MOVES TO NEW BUILDING
In the second week of May 2016, the bank changed locations from its home at 400 State Street to a new spot right across the street at 413 State Street. After being in the same building since it opened, the space could no longer fulfill the needs of the staff. At first, the bank looked into renovating the former building and adding a second floor to make more space. But after considering the options, it became apparent that the property across the street made more sense. So the former headquarters were sold to the town to house the city council chamber after renovations are made.
The move nearly doubled the amount of space available for the bank’s use with a ground floor, as well as an upstairs and a downstairs. The main floor acts as a traditional lobby, with teller windows and offices. Upstairs are additional office spaces, a meeting room, a kitchenette and a board room. The downstairs holds a training room for monthly staff meetings, a break room, an information technology room and storage space.
May 23 was the bank’s first day of business in the new office. By moving to the new space, the bank was able to bring on three new employees, bringing the total number of staff members at all branches and extension offices to 35.
“Probably remaining an independent and locally owned community bank,” said Underwood about what aspect of the bank he is most proud of. “Just the impact that we’ve been able to have with the communities that we serve.”
Courtesy of Caitlin Ware, Guthrie Center Times 6/29/16 and Guthrie County Vedette 6/30/16.