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Banking Done Differently: Gate City Bank Disrupting Industry Norms For A Better Way Of Life

What does it mean to create a better way of life? It’s about putting people before business and lending a helping hand to customers, communities and fellow team members. Whether it’s  providing free ATMs worldwide, giving back to communities or promoting diversity and innovation, a better way of life comes from empowering people to make a difference.

Who is Gate City Bank?

Gate City Bank is a mutual community bank with 43 locations and 735 team members across 22 communities in North Dakota and central Minnesota.

With $2.6 billion in assets, it’s become the region’s leading financial institution.

The Bank’s mission is to provide a welcoming atmosphere and a commitment to making the lives of its customers and team members better by investing in them and their communities For a Better Way of Life.®

For 97 years, Gate City Bank’s tradition has been to be the bank of choice and employer of choice with team members of choice.

Here are some cool things to know about Gate City Bank:

  • It’s the #1 mortgage lender in North Dakota.
  • Locally approved, serviced and financed loans are quick and easy.
  • Checking customers enjoy free ATMs anywhere with unlimited ATM fee refunds– worldwide. (This has saved customers more than $38 million.)
  • Gate City Bank is big into community giving. Team members have provided $27.7 million in philanthropic giving and 237,000 hours of team volunteerism to over 1,000 charities.
  • The Bank offers its BetterLife™ Student Loan, which is the first and only program of its kind in the nation.* This program helps to pay off student loans faster, featuring no fees and a low interest rate. Since 2015, Gate City Bank has helped nearly 3,000 customers save more than $25 million in student loan interest.
Giving Hearts Day

Gate City Bank is one of the key drivers in the annual Giving Hearts Day. In 2020, Gate City Bank donated over $250,000.

Gate City Bank wants to accompany every customer on their financial journey, partnering with them through life. From saving for college to planning for retirement, Gate City Bank is there. Additionally, everything Gate City Bank team members do is shaped by the Bank’s Principles of High Standards:

Make a Difference: Give back to communities by making an impactful difference through volunteerism and philanthropic giving.

Customer Obsession: Exceed expectations by going above and beyond. Listen, delight, enhance and personalize experiences from beginning to end across all channels.

Be a Leader: Lead with integrity, honesty and innovation to maintain financial leadership with competitive products, services and experiences.

Giving back

Team members are empowered to give back in the communities where they live and work.

Embrace Data and Innovation: Explore new ways to foster innovation that supports strategic goals.

Sense of Urgency: Act with a sense of urgency to proactively initiate positive change, allowing Gate City Bank to remain the financial leader.

Commitment to Compliance: Accountability to high standards of compliance and risk mitigation through successful execution of policies, procedures, processes and applicable laws and regulations.

Ultimately, Gate City Bank believes that personal service,  financial strength and local involvement leads to positive outcomes, and decisions are driven by a culture of putting customers, communities and team members first. It’s why so many customers and team members choose to stay with Gate City Bank long term.

For a Better Way of Life®

“For a Better Way of Life” is Gate City Bank’s tagline and part of its mission, and the Bank has gone as far as to register it with the federal government for exclusivity. When team members leave work every day, they’re encouraged to ask themselves what they’ve done to create a better way of life for a customer, community or fellow team member.

“Before the end of each day, it’s become routine for me to list out all the ways I’ve made a difference in someone’s life,” says Kevin Hanson, Gate City Bank President & CEO. “It keeps me accountable as a team member, and it reminds me that the Bank’s overall goal is to change people’s lives for the better.”

Additionally, the tagline “For a Better Way of Life” has inspired team members to think about the difference they can make in the long term. Being a servant leader isn’t about who gets the recognition, but how to best help customers and communities. The goal is to lead by example and empower people to make a difference through their work.

Giving Back

Gate City Bank has fostered a culture of having fun while giving back.

An example of the Bank’s mission being integrated into everyday life is its commitment to volunteering. In 2019, team members volunteered nearly 16,000 hours. Gate City Bank encourages team members to do that on company time – and for each hour they volunteer beyond 10 hours, the Bank gifts approximately $25 per hour to the charity.

Giving Hearts Day is another example of how Gate City Bank has encouraged team members to create a better way of life for the communities it serves. This year, the Bank had the honor of delivering gifts of $2,500 to 30 charitable organizations, and it surprised five charities with boosts that totaled $60,000.

A Culture Like No Other

Gate City Bank promotes a culture of fun. Whether it’s celebrating “Fun Days” with treats and unique themes or encouraging customers and team members to enjoy the Bank’s now infamous freshly baked cookies, it’s important for team members to feel happy at work.

This is partly reflected by the fact that 50% of referrals for new team members come from existing team members. It’s an open culture with easy access to leaders, and everyone is empowered to act.

In addition to encouraging team members to take time off to give back, Gate City Bank has implemented a sabbatical program where a team member can take four weeks off with no access to email. During that four-week period, all inquiries that team member receives will be forwarded to a colleague.

Gate City Bank selects team members for sabbaticals, and they work on four things during their time off – leadership development, family, education and community involvement. The Bank also asks them to share what they learned. Additionally, Gate City Bank’s culture is one that is based on empathy.

Team members regularly take the time to talk to people around them about what’s going on in their lives. Generally, people tend to spend more time engaged in work with coworkers than they do with family. Flexible work schedules have helped with this, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Empowerment and Leadership Diversity

Gate City Bank believes in empowering team members, who are the experts in their jobs. What makes them experts is their incredible knowledge, as well as their passion for their work.

The goal is to encourage people to find something in their department that has caused them to pause, then fix it. This has led to countless positive developments in the company.

Additionally, more than 70% of the Bank’s leadership positions are held by women, and more than 50% of Executive Leadership Team positions are held by women.

Gate City Bank Team

More than 70% of Gate City Bank’s leadership roles are held by women.

Partnering with NDSU

Gate City Bank has a unique partnership with North Dakota State University. The Bank started this partnership and brought its presence to Gate City Bank Field before the legendary FCS Division I football dynasty became such a dominant force. Gate City Bank team members recognized potential and played a vital role in the development of the football program’s venue and fan experience.

Additionally, Gate City Bank sponsors academic scholarships and infrastructure improvements. Sudro Hall is the latest example of the successful NDSU  partnership. It involved a $28 million expansion (Aldevron Tower), which required construction financing. The Bank helped save $2.5 million in interest so savings could go into additional remodeling.

Aldevron Tower is a crucial project for many reasons, the largest being fulfilling a national medical need. The nation’s nursing shortage is critical, and NDSU’s nursing program needed an upgraded facility and financing. The Bank was chosen out of nine other financial institutions, and delivered a loan at below-market interest rates.

Barry Hall, an NDSU business studies location, was another project Gate City Bank got involved in. The Bank set up an endowment to remodel and keep the facility continually fresh. Gate City Bank Auditorium (formerly Stevens Auditorium) received the same type of upgrade and ongoing improvement funding.

2020 Awards and Accolades

  • Voted “Top 50 Best Places to Work” by Prairie Business magazine for seven years in a row
  • Named “Best Mortgage Brokerage” by The Bismarck Tribune’s 2020 Best of the Best
  • Voted “Best Bank” and “Best Mortgage Lender” by the Devils Lake Journal, 2020 Readers’ Choice
  • Awarded “Best Bank” in the Williston Herald Best of the Bakken 2020
Kevin Hanson, Gate City Bank President & CEO

Kevin Hanson, Gate City Bank President & CEO

Community Giving

Generously giving of time and resources through servant leadership is part of Gate City Bank’s culture. The Bank is honored to support its communities through charitable contributions, in-kind donations (such as reduced interest rate loans for nonprofit organizations) and paid volunteer time.

Most recently, Gate City Bank has taken steps to help community members amid the COVID-19 pandemic. From donating more than 30,000 of its blue tote bags to students transferring home-learning materials, to delivering pizza to heroic health care workers, to displaying #WorldOfHearts support at drive-up and lobby windows, the Bank’s locations across North Dakota and central Minnesota have let communities know everyone is in this together.

Amid COVID-19, Gate City Bank has supported local businesses by purchasing gift cards and distributing them to team members. The Bank has also implemented special programs to assist customers who have experienced financial stress due to a business closing, job loss or reduction of work hours as a result of COVID-19.

Another example of community support is when Gate City Bank learned about the need for state-of-the-art protective helmets at local police and fire departments. The Bank donated 115 new helmets to increase safety on the job. And when the Moorhead Fire Department needed an industrial washing machine, Gate City Bank made it possible.

Yet another example is when YWCA needed financing to build a new facility. Gate City Bank gave the organization a low interest rate so more money could be used to help YWCA provide a very special environment – one of stability, safety and support – for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse situations. The Bank donated $1.5 million over 12 years for start-up costs and supportive services.

Supporting the military has also been crucial for Gate City Bank, which has partnered with North Dakota Cares to help create a better way of life for military members and their families through engagement, gratitude and recognition.

The Bank created a program to continue paying and providing full benefits for team members who are active service members while they’re on duty. These service members also get an extra two weeks of paid time off when they come off active duty to rest and relax before coming back to work.

Gate City Bank’s community contributions extend even further, thanks to the passion and generosity of its team members.

Making a Difference

Gate City Bank cares that its legacy of innovation, servant leadership, community giving, empowerment and fun lives on every day. The Bank’s goal will always be to help customers, communities and team members create a better way of life.

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Written by Brady Drake

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