A century of bankingPublished 3:33am Sunday, March 10, 2013
Family-owned Elkton bank reaches 100-year milestone
—This feature originally appeared in Progress 2013. Get a copy at the Austin Daily Herald office, 310 Second St. NE.
One hundredth birthdays are nothing to scoff at. Yet when Farmers State Bank of Elkton reaches its big anniversary in October 2013, one man in particular will celebrate his and his family’s long line of dedicated work.
“This is where I’ve been since I left college,” said Michael Schneider, president of the bank. “We know everybody by their first name.”
A handful of people opened the bank a century ago with only $3,500 of their own money. In 1920, Michael’s grandfather, J.F. Schneider, began his family’s legacy with the bank when he became president. Today, it has total assets of about $50 million, and it continues to grow. There are 2,500-2,800 accounts in total —which belong to 900-1,200 customers — at the bank between its main office in Elkton and a branch near Dexter.
But for Michael, it’s not just a numbers game. His favorite part is the role the bank plays in the community.
“I enjoy visiting with people,” he said. “Each person that comes into the bank has a different issue or concern than the other.”
Michael, who started at the bank in 1974, suddenly became president in 1990 after tragedy struck his family. His father, Robert, passed away unexpectedly while on vacation overseas. While the bank had been handed down from father to son before, his father’s untimely death meant Michael had to take the reigns on very short notice.
“It was quite an adjustment,” he said.
During his time at the bank, Michael has seen it change from all-paper to personal computers and servers. While there’s still a lot of paper involved, there’s not nearly as much as there used to be.
“The technology has changed banking a lot,” he said. “People don’t have to visit the bank as often.” Even if clients leave Mower County, they can still maintain their bank accounts, he added.
Recently, the holding companies for Elkton bank and Farmer’s State Bank in Adams merged. Michael said the plan is to merge the banks themselves in the near future, which could happen in late 2013 or early 2014.
“We’re going to have more resources to run the bank,” Michael said.
While the Schneider family has led the bank for most of the past 100 years, they aren’t the only ones to stick with it. Out of the nine employees that work at the two offices, most have been on staff for a long time. The most recent hire was in 2005.