Continuing the Legacy: From Boatmen's to First Missouri State Bank

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Of the original First Missouri State Bank 12 employees, the 10 who have stayed for the past 18 years include – pictured (from left): front – Steve Taylor, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board; Judy Hutteger, Loan Operations; Wendy Aufdenberg, Deposit Services; Rhonda Windeknecht, Assistant Branch Manager; Pam Davault, Financial Administrator; and Jay Knudtson, EVP, Chief Lending Officer and Board Secretary: back– Kathleen Boehme, Loan Administrator; Brittney Lee, SVP and Chief Financial Officer; Sandy Boston, SVP and Chief Operations Officer; and Tracy Sprandel, Loan Administrator.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. That was the Boatmen's Way, and with nine First Missouri State Bank employees who got their start at Boatmen's, it's how they build their bank community, too. And it shows: of the original 12 employees who started with First Missouri State Bank when Steve Taylor and Jay Knudtson founded it in 2002, 10 still work there. And they're proud of that.

"Our building blocks are based on the core values and culture instilled in us from other successful local banks like Boatmen's and Cape County Bank," says First Missouri State Bank President, CEO and Chairman of the Board Steve Taylor. "We operate on the belief of commitment to community."

It's a culture that takes care of its own -- both its employees and customers -- through the bank's practice of promoting from within. They cite the examples of Brittney Lee, who started in new accounts when the bank opened and now serves as the Chief Financial Officer, and Heather Dameron, who started as a mortgage loan processor and now serves as the Chief Credit Officer.

"We have always done our best to rely on our people as opposed to our systems," says First Missouri State Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Jay Knudtson. "Find the right people, and allow their strengths to determine their role in the bank."

This was best exemplified when First Missouri State Bank added local banker Steve Green to the team in 2015. Steve was born and raised in Southeast Missouri and has solidified the lending team.

This approach creates consistency that allows the bank to grow and innovate, as well as the ability to build lasting relationships with bank clients, two integral components of First Missouri State Bank's business.

One way the bank works to customize the loan process for each customer is through the Home Loan Heroes led by Dane Balsmann and Gunnar Knudtson and their relationships with clients. Because loan decisions are made locally, Balsmann and Knudtson are given the authority and flexibility to structure loans to meet the individual needs of each home buyer.

Home Loan Heroes Gunnar Knudtson and Dane Balsmann

Serving in the role of Home Loan Heroes is something the First Missouri State Bank team takes very seriously when assisting new and existing customers in the purchase of their dream home or refinancing their existing home. Local decision-making along with historically low interest rates has allowed the Home Loan Heroes to make peoples' dreams come true.

Becoming experts in home-lending is just another way that First Missouri State Bank demonstrates its commitment to becoming the best community bank it can be. Personalized customer service is what allows them to differentiate themselves from the competitors and allows them to best serve the community.

"The way we make loans really hasn't changed that much over the years," Taylor says. "We still rely on the wisdom and core values instilled in us from our previous time in other local banks and have married it up with technology that makes our customers' lives easier. We strive to communicate with our customers where they're at."