Nationwide, new bank (“de novo”) formation activity surged in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. It was during this era that a group of business people from Bay City and Saginaw hired a consultant to explore the idea to start a de novo bank in the region. The conclusion of the study, conducted by Dave Harrison in February 2000, was that the region did not have enough economic growth to support another bank. The idea was dismissed. Among the people in this conversation were three of 1st State Bank’s Founding Board Members; Phillip List, Lynn Wolgast and Richard Watson.
By 2002, real estate developers Lynn Wolgast and Jake Shinners had developed much of the business district near Tittabawassee and Towne Centre Roads.
Lynn Wolgast was a customer of First of America Bank (currently PNC Bank) and Jake Shinners, a customer of Citizens Bank, (currently Huntington Bank). Each approached his respective bank about a construction loan to build a Holiday Inn Express on Tittabawassee Road. Both men were told the banks had a policy at that time not to finance construction for hotels. As successful developers, this was a disturbing response and reignited the idea that a new bank was needed in the area. They gathered a core group of people that included Phillip List, Richard Watson, Mike Bierlein and Rick Goedert to once again revisit the idea for a de novo bank in the area.
The group understood having a healthy business community is an essential part of our region’s success. They believed having a locally owned bank focused on businesses would make the business community healthier. Having bankers that understood the region; the business climate, the industries, the owners and their company’s history would lead to better decisions for the region. It was also important that lending policies did not exclude particular industries. Many of these values were changing in the banking industry due to the consolidation of community banks into larger regional and national banks. Each member of the group personally experienced the negative changes happening in the banking industry. Our founding directors wanted area business owners and managers to have the opportunity to work directly with experienced bankers who were decision makers headquartered in this area. They wanted local deposits reinvested in business loans in the community. As a result, the decision was made to start a community bank specifically for businesses. During the early planning it was a conscious decision to involve the community as owners/shareholders of the new bank. The group identified Saginaw, Bay, and Midland counties as the bank’s primary market.
To assist with their business plan, the Rehmann Group, an accounting and business advisory firm was hired. Princing and Ewend Advertising was hired to assist with a marketing plan, selection of the Bank’s name, and design of the Bank’s logo. The group reached out to like-minded business people and a Board of Directors was assembled.
Terry Niederstadt, a well-known banker working at Citizens Bank, was hired to be the Bank’s President and CEO. Terry began efforts toward building the de novo bank. Filings were submitted for a state charter. The State Bank, Fenton, Michigan was hired as the Bank’s core processor and space was leased at 4805 Towne Centre Road, Saginaw for its first location.
In October of 2003, five employees were hired to help assemble the Bank: Helen Weitzman, Margo Winieckie, Rick Goedert, Wanda Dziwura and Connie Morzinski. Deposit and loan accounts and services were defined, general ledgers constructed, and furniture and supplies purchased. This process continued until April 2004. Coinciding with these events, in late December 2003, the Bank’s charter was approved and the initial stock offering began.
Keeping with their core principle of forming a locally owned bank, the offering was designed to have the community purchase the stock in the bank. Corporate shareholders were limited to Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Company, The State Bank, Fenton, Isabella Bank and Commercial Bank, Ithaca. The initial offering was a minimum investment of $25,000 and a maximum investment of $250,000 per person/entity. The price was $10 per share. The goal was $8 million.
With an overwhelming response from the community, $11.4 million was raised and the Bank opened its doors April 12, 2004