by Tammy Sakry
Over the last five months, Randy Diers has been trying to get to know the people he works for.
In August 2010, Diers was hired as the new Village Bank president, replacing Larry Schminski.
Although he has not had the opportunity to introduce himself to all four of the Village Bank branches in East Bethel, St. Francis, Ramsey and Blaine, Diers said he has already learned “the Village Bank communities are wonderful.”
Diers love of finance began when he was young.
As a middle schooler, he had a paper route and he developed an interest in business, Diers said.
With a goal of going to business school, the Colorado native entered the University of Colorado after graduating from high school.
During a class taught by the head economist of the United Bank of Denver, Diers said he fell in love with banking.
Talking to the teacher after class “got me interested in the banking industry,” he said.
Following his 1981 graduation, Diers went on to work in Colorado banking industry during the savings and loan crisis of the early 1980s when 747 savings and loan businesses failed.
Starting his banking career in the early 1980s meant he was steeled in a conservative philosophy, Diers said.
“It was great to learn early in my career from a bank that was very strong and viable, very conservative and with accurate loan polices in place,” he said.
The bank officers “didn’t deviate from that policy and remained with the philosophy of helping people, diversifying risk and making sure people had skin (cash, i.e. down payment) in the game.”
“The rising tide raises all ships,” Diers said. “We found out the necessity of fundamentals in a recession.”
Diers will put those fundamentals to work at Village Bank as the bank begins its new strategic plan.
The plan, which was implemented in December 2010, is a response to the September consent order put on the bank by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
During a scheduled review of the bank in March 2010, the FDIC expressed concerns over the management system and the bank’s focus.
“Our weaknesses stemmed from unmanaged growth, lenient lending practices and not obtaining our customers’ primary banking relationships as the core means of funding our loan growth,” Diers said.
Diers came on board because the bank was looking to strengthen and move in a different direction, according to Don Kveton, bank owner.
The bank also hired Tom Schaffhausen as the new executive vice president and chief credit officer as well as a new human resources director, a retail banking director, a couple new credit analyst and two new lenders.
Village Bank began looking for a new president in January 2010.
“We were looking for someone with different experience, a people person with business knowledge as well as family person that (understood) the tight budgets,” Kveton said.
Diers was one of 50 people interviewed for the job.
“I knew in the first hour he was the person we were looking for,” Kveton said.
“He is honest – he wears and lives it.”
Kveton said his wife Jaime summed it up best. “He makes you feel safe,” she said.
Diers has a way of getting everyone involved and taking ownership of the decisions, of making everyone feel important, according to Kveton.
While bank customers have not notice big changes, some accounts have been restructured at a slightly lower interest rate and more services will be offered.
By the end of March, Village Bank will be adding full mortgage service and it is actively looking at an insurance service, Diers said.
It’s all part of the bank’s strategic plan.
The plan is to build the core deposits, to strengthen the bank’s key risk management systems, the risk rating systems, the risk methodologies, liquidity management and to grow the bank based on its capital plan, Diers said.
“Overall, the plan is to strengthen the bank, strengthen loan quality, strengthen assets quality, develop our management team, leadership development and serve our growing customer population,” he said.
Prior to joining Village Bank, Diers had been the president and chief executive officer of Lake Area Bank for 17 years before joining Vector Wealth Management Investment Committee as a consultant in 2007.
Before moving to Minnesota, Diers also served as the executive vice-president at Firstbank of Colorado.
“While working as a consultant was great, it’s really fun to be back in the saddle,” Diers said.
“The opportunity to work with people and help Village Bank get stronger and serve the people in this market place is what really appealed to me.”
“Every day is different and you get to help people –two things that are very appealing to me.”
“I like having the opportunity to help people achieve their dreams whether it’s building their business, their homes or planning for their retirement.”
Village Bank’s strong support of community organizations, including the food shelves, also was a draw from Diers.
There is such a strong sense of purpose to the Village Bank community, he said.
“I called my wife and told her this was it,” Diers said of his action after his job interview.
Diers has his own community support background.
He is a member of the Linwood Economic Development Authority and at one time he was active boardmember of the Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Fairview Lakes Hospital.
Tammy Sakry is at email@example.com