Steamboat Springs First National Bank, one of the new players in the increasingly competitive banking environment in Steamboat Springs, announced Thursday that it has signed a proven leader.
John Kerst, a well-known local resident and regional manager for Wells Fargo, has been named president of the new bank, of which he is an investor.
"Sometimes you have to let go of security and see what you can make of your dreams," he said. "One of the things this position will provide is the opportunity to see what kind of contribution we my wife, Patty, and myself can make within Steamboat. I'm an individual who has always pushed to make what I call decisions of the heart and to do what you believe in. In the business world, these sorts of decisions aren't all that numerous we tend to make decisions with our heads, based on the dollar signs. But the opportunity to be back in town and part of this community is important to me."
First National is now in a mobile home at the corner of U.S. 40 and Hilltop Parkway, across from the Sinclair gas station. The bank board intends to have the permanent facility an 18,000-square-foot, two-story building built by the end of 2001. There are now five banks in Steamboat Springs and the competition for local customers is more intense than it has ever been.
A First National search committee had been considering a handful of candidates both inside and outside of Colorado.
"But when John Kerst's name came to our attention, we focused most of our attention on him," said Tim Borden, the bank's chairman. "He brings to the bank exactly what we are looking for a leader in the community, a longtime local who intends to stay here and retire here; someone whose roots are here, and who understands the problems facing our customers and the community in general."
At Wells Fargo, Kerst, the former president of Norwest Bank, managed 24 banks across northwest Colorado and Wyoming. The job required that Kerst travel extensively and the road was wearing on him. The opportunity to spend more time at home made the First National offer that much more enticing.
But it was more than a chance to put away the suitcase.
First National counts many local residents among its investors. The fact that he knows the people who are backing the bank drew Kerst to it.
"The most impressive thing about First National is definitely the local people involved in it," he said. "One of the things I think we sometimes all desire is to have ownership in something that can make a contribution in the community."
Among the investors are Kerst and his wife.
"You look at John Kerst, and everyone just knows he's a leader in the community," said Bob Milne, Steamboat Resorts president and a member of the bank's board of directors. "He's had 35 years of banking experience. How could we pass that up?"
Since 1988, Kerst has been president of the chamber, has served as chairman of the hospital board, was chairman of the summer marketing committee, and has volunteered time with Future Farmers of America and 4-H clubs.
Until Kerst expressed interest in the position, Greg Dickson was the leading candidate for president. Dickson has been interim president since Jim Moses left the bank in April to pursue a career opportunity in Wyoming.
Moses was instrumental in guiding the bank through its charter process; First National received its charter on March 16, Milne said.
Dickson will continue in his role as interim president until Kerst takes over, sometime within the next 30 to 60 days.
First National Bank started a year ago with a small group of investors that eventually grew to the current number of 25.
To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail email@example.com