United Prairie Celebrates 100 Years of Business

United Prairie Celebrates 100 Years of Business


United Prairie Bank in 2019 is
celebrating its hundredth anniversary. The bank charter was chartered in 1919. This bank has grown well.
At seventy-five years, we had a little celebration, now I
look at it and I say “wow”. Today we’re one bank with multiple
locations, serving our clients, in a high-quality, high-standard way. A lot of banks have changed, have been dropped. This bank’s still here! And it started right
here. When my dad bought the company back in 1973, the culture that he fostered was almost family-like. He treated people
very very much like family. It’s amazing that Jim hasn’t really been
involved for a long time but we still get the influence that he’s had on a lot
of people in the community, that he’s done a lot of good for. It’s fun to hear
about those stories. My wife’s father was in the bank in Fulda,
for years and years. And he said “Jim I think you’d like banking.” After graduating from Mankato
State, I went into the bank as a bookkeeper in the back room, sorting and
filing checks. In those days, you know, that was pretty big stuff. I ended up
going to the Twin Cities and I got to manage a 1 million dollar bank. Can you
imagine? “One – you know, I’ll do it.” And then, I got wind of this bank being for sale, and I knew the owner the Schrader people – they were families here. He said
I’ll sell you the bank. Mountain Lake was the first bank that he bought, which happened
to be his hometown. My dad asked if I had any interest in the business and you know I’d been laying block and concrete with a local construction company in Mountain Lake, I thought “Gee, being in an air-conditioning building might be kind of
nice for a summer.” I started in the bookkeeping department he was very very dedicated to his community and to the agricultural business Wonderful customers, I’ll tell you. And especially the farmers. They made us
because we grew with the farmer over the years. The real growth spurt that started
to happen it was because of the ag crisis in the 80s. At the time, my
dad had run his business well enough so that the regulatory agencies looked at
him and went “Hmm… he must be running a decent bank so he was contacted on more than one occasion and was told that there was an opportunity because a bank
was going to fail. Fortunately he was the successful bidder on the ones that he
did end up buying. Our further Southwest location is Worthington.
Straight north of there is Wilmont. East of Worthington, Jackson – about 30 miles away. North of there, we’re at Windom. We’re at Mountain Lake which is east of there. And then, New Ulm. West to Madison. North is Spicer. And then, down to Owatonna and Waseca, and then back to Mankato. I came from outside in ’99 and the biggest thing for me, was I wanted to be able to talk to the person who made the decisions,
and that was Jim Sneer. I know I can get to Jim if I’ve got a real challenge. You gotta give your employees credit. that’s what makes the bank. I didn’t do it.
The people in these offices – they do it. I met Jim and then I met Stuart, and the owners
have always been approachable. I remember one of my favorite directors – my son – when I was about 63, I made him the manager. He took over and has done a tremendous job for us and I have a lot of respect. My dad and his team of executives did a
great job with what they had at the time. He had a very good reputation, going back to culture of treating people right. He welcomed people with open arms
and said “Let’s work together!” So that word began to spread. And then there
was a couple more smaller opportunities that happened in the mid later 2000s. And
about that time, he was reaching an age where he wanted to step back. I started
to step up a little bit and ultimately ended up consolidating our bank charters. He said, “Dad, we cannot have individual boards for every bank.” So then we got the
idea – let’s combine them all into one. We did and one of our lenders in Round
Lake came up with this ‘United Prairie’ and it just sunk. We took that name. We definitely are known and take pride in being an ag related bank. We
know our customers, we know our clients out in the communities we serve. I just look around at the people working for us. Customers love them. And when you
realize you have good people and take care of them, you will be successful. No
question about it. The biggest part in leadership
is checking your ego at the door. Secondly, genuinely caring about your
people, and the people know you care about them. And stretching them and making them stronger leaders. I know what my father’s legacy is – if I have a legacy when I walk out the door for the last time, what I would like to leave
behind me is a family-owned, very professionally
run, community-minded bank. A hundred years and we are looking forward to the next hundred.

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