What "Community Banking" Means to Us
By Don Kveton
November 15, 2018
Trust -- it’s at the heart of everything we do at Village Bank. From building trusted relationships with our Villagers to donating our time and resources to local causes that help our neighbors and friends, it’s how we define community banking.
When I chartered our first Village Bank in St. Francis 25 years ago, I wanted to create a trustworthy financial institution where people could turn when they wanted to buy a house, start a business or go to college. I wanted the bank to have a positive impact on our area by supporting local businesses, schools and community colleges, in addition to working with our local chambers and governments. Village Bank was designed to be a cornerstone of our growing community, just like banks used to be when my parents and grandparents were growing up.
I learned from an early age how vital a trusted community bank can be. My passion for community banking was first planted back on our family dairy farm in northern Minnesota. It was a multigenerational farm -- my grandparents lived there, and their grandparents homesteaded it. We worked hard for what we had, and we were proud of what we built.
During the 1950s and 60s, we experienced extreme droughts. It made our life on the farm even more challenging and stressful. Times were so tough that my father had to resort to buying hay out of state, which was very expensive.
One day, a man in a suit came to our door and asked for my father. The man said his bank was going to take our farm unless we paid our bills. I’ll never forget what my father said to him -- “You can’t take my farm. If you do, you’ll take my family.” I could hear the fear in my father’s voice -- fear over where we would live and what we would do. It’s a helpless feeling knowing that your future lies in the hands of someone who won’t take the time to listen to or work with you. It was in that moment I realized there had to be a better way. If I ever had a prayer of becoming a businessman, I would start a bank that wouldn’t treat people the way the man in the suit treated my father. I began dreaming of a bank that would see potential in people, and in turn, protect and grow its community.
Sadly, my father passed away when I was 14 years old, and I knew then that I would have to make my own way in the world. I left home at 16 and moved to the Cities, where I started cleaning buildings. My younger brother came with me, and I helped raise him. Even though I was still a teenager, those years on the family farm instilled a drive in me to work hard for what I have and not to accept handouts. My faith, belief in good people and a strong work ethic got me through those difficult years and helped me become the entrepreneur and family man I am today.
While the number of community banks around Minnesota shrinks, our community bank is thriving. In fact, we plan on growing our staff by 20% next year. But the Village Bank success story isn’t just mine. It’s often said that the key to success is surrounding yourself with the right people, and we most certainly have! Our Villagers -- from our staff to our clients -- are an integral part of our success and why we are excited about the future.
It’s also truly one of God’s greatest blessings when you can work with your children, and I’m honored to work alongside my daughter, Aleesha Webb, the new President of Village Bank. Aleesha shares my passion for community banking and cares just as deeply about protecting and supporting our Village. Like me, she believes a trusted community bank is the foundation of a thriving Village and will uphold our tradition of valuing our employees and supporting economic sustainability. She’s also committed to giving back to our community through the banks’ local volunteer efforts, food drives, and collecting school supplies for kids.
I’m so proud that our Villagers turn to Village Bank because they know we’ll help them whenever it’s possible. We go beyond what other banks do because we care. We are a community bank. We are proud to be a part of your Village.