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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
First National Bank of Park Falls named business of the year
PHOTO: Daryll Lund, president and CEO of Community Bankers of Wisconsin, presents an award honoring First National Bank of Park Falls to President Tom Armstrong.
First National Bank of Park Falls is committed to the area, according to bank President Tom Armstrong, and in August the Park Falls Area Community Development Corporation (PFACDC) honored the institution as its 2014 Business of the Year.
Held directly across from the bank’s main office in downtown Park Falls, the eighth annual award ceremony included attendance by political dignitaries and local business leaders. During the award presentation and accompanying remarks, the setting of the event took center stage as the bank was referred to as an anchor of not only the downtown area but also of the community at large.
As Armstrong commented on the honor, he pointed to the mural backdrop that encircled the crowd. Among other prominent figures decorating the business district’s walls rests the likeness of Arnold J. Stueber, Sr., a local entrepreneur and pillar of the community who purchased controlling interest in the bank in 1982, which brought it back under local management.
Although Stueber recently passed away, the bank continues under family ownership. It’s nice to be able to look out of the bank windows, peer across the street and see a visual of Stueber and his wife, Sally, Armstrong noted. It serves as a reminder of the historical foundation of the bank as well as the work left to be done as he and his fellow bank employees get to work each morning.
It’s work that involves a clear dedication to all things local.
“We’re the only community bank in Price County,” Armstrong said, and its staying power is evidenced by the century-long presence right in the heart of the city. The bank has commemorated this milestone with a year-long 100th anniversary celebration that has included a kick-off employee function, a customer appreciation day and a public party.
The ability to weather the inevitable storms that come and go throughout the decades is a phenomenon that bank Vice President Sam Pritzl said is growing increasingly rare in today’s tumultuous environment filled with mergers and acquisitions.
“We do have an additional branch in Park Falls and one in Phillips,” he said, “but other than that we are still on the same street corner we were 100 years ago when this all started, and we’ve been able to maintain that in the community and grow and prosper here in Park Falls.”
Part of the key to this lasting success can be attributed to the bank’s reliance on strong local ties and a sense of rapport with its patrons, added Pritzl.
“We know our customers, we know the area, we know how everything functions in the Park Falls area and the surrounding areas as well, so when people come in for a loan, we understand their situations,” he said. “It is very important for us to have relationships with our customers, and I think that our customers appreciate that as well.”
According to a historical account prepared by Assistant Vice President LuAnn Palecek, during the Stueber ownership assets have grown from $32 to $128 million, and for 20 consecutive years Bauer Financial has rated First National a five star bank, which puts it in the top 10 percent of all banks in the United States.
Bank leaders note there are continual efforts to find ways to improve upon this success moving forward. This past year, that has included the remodeling of the main branch’s lobby – an upgrade intended to create a more inviting atmosphere while increasing the functionality of the space. First National has also made strides toward capitalizing on the popularity and convenience of online banking by maintaining ties to those with Price County roots who have moved to other locales.
Although the recent award and the ongoing anniversary celebration have offered opportunities to pause, reflect, and look back on an entire century of service, finding ways to bolster the community in the years to come remains top priority.
“We are totally invested in this area,” Pritzl said. “We are highly leveraged in the Park Falls area and committed to doing whatever we can to make it grow and prosper.”Previous Daily Briefing Articles:
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