First International Bank and Trust Update
First International Bank and Trust is on its way to a June/July 2017 grand opening.
While the original opening date was set for May 2017, setbacks have stemmed from cold weather and winter storms. According to the Rugby branch president, Tanner Johnson, the building is 25% complete so far.
Currently, construction is being done on the building’s roof over the tenant space and walls are being closed.
A project totaling about $6.5 million, the building will serve as more than just a bank to the community. “As for the look of the building itself, they wanted the bank to represent the area,” Johnson said. “They wanted it to be sort of a showcase for the entrance to Rugby.”
The completed building will have a cabin-like feel, with open windows to allow natural lighting and finished wood beams and detailing inside. The space will have three office suites with a shared conference room and a gallery. There will be a basement that will remain unfinished until further expansion is needed.
“I’d like to see the space used as a public type of display area of sorts for the art students, for the community, etc. It’s just one of many ideas,” Johnson said.
Something that Rugby community members can look forward to is the reworking of the Hub sign, which will be fixed and hung on the fireplace inside the gallery space.
“It’s such an iconic sign in Rugby and has been since the ’60s,” Johnson said. “We wanted to recognize the importance of what the Hub was to this community.”
With the opening of the new building brings the opportunity for new jobs in the area. As of now, the Rugby branch has a staff of seven, which Johnson says will grow with the transfer into the new building. Some positions the bank will be looking to fill over time include personal bankers, loan officers, insurance sellers, and investments and trust services, as well as corporate employees that work various jobs, such as HR and compliance.
Employees of First International Bank and Trust are encouraged to be a part of the community, not just by working in it, but by volunteering as well. “As far as the bank, we are a full service financial institution which prides itself on being a local community bank with local decisions. We want to be a part of the community, not just physically being located here, but being in the community and having employees volunteering,” Johnson said.
From Rugby, Johnson grew up farming with his father and brother. After acquiring student loan debt in college, he began working in the corporate banking field, holding jobs in various banks before settling back in Rugby. After a long stint at a local bank, the opportunity for president of the Rugby branch of First International came about.
“I really loved what the bank and its owners, the Stenehjems, stood for,” Johnson said. “I loved their values and their philosophy on banking, which is why I felt this was the right place for me.”
Then named Farmer’s State Bank, Odin Stenehjem became the first cashier in 1911 and Gerhard Stenehjem became its first president in 1917. Since then, the bank has had both name and location changes, but has remained in the family.
“[The Stenehjems] are great people, and they understand what it takes for small communities to survive. That’s why they loved the idea of opening a branch in Rugby,” Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to the day we can step foot inside. Business has been great, and people in the community have been very accepting. It’s humbling.”
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