This summer the ownership and staff at F&M Bank Minnesota are excited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of providing banking services to the community. Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Clarkfield, Incorporated (the original name of the bank) was chartered on January 28, 1919. This was the same year that the 18th Amendment to the Constitution authorizing Prohibition was ratified, World War I ended, and Babe Ruth was infamously “sold” from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees. The name was changed a few years ago to F&M Bank Minnesota when the Olivia and Renville locations were acquired.

K. K. Solberg and Dr. M. M. Hauge were issued the original charter with $25,000 in Capital and $5,000 in Surplus. In 1932 the bank was sold to T. F. Spreiter and Associates. G. Cornelius was President until it was again sold in 1937 to C. C. Elkjer of Montevideo and W. J. Strate of New Ulm. After the death of Mr. Elkjer in 1957, his two sons-in-law, Lyndon Lofdahl and Donald Nelson became the new owners. Lyndon died in 1968 and Don continued to operate the bank until 1977 when it was acquired by Paul Lindholm and family. In 1999, controlling ownership was sold to Steve and Mary Jane Lindholm. That is only 5 owner groups during its 100 years of existence. We pride ourselves on being locally owned and keeping decision making local.

Many of your readers may remember when Lyndon Loftdahl and Don Nelson owned the bank. Once Paul Lindholm became involved in 1977 there was a strong emphasis on agriculture which was his background. Alice Smith was a senior loan officer affectionately remembered by so many. She worked for the bank for more than 50 years spanning the Don Nelson and Paul Lindholm ownerships. Don, Alice and Paul have since passed on. Wes Husby is another familiar name. He has farmed for several years now, is currently a director of the bank and worked with both Paul and Steve as a key loan officer for more than 30 years, retiring as Executive Vice President.

Paul, Steve and Wes were working with farmers during the 80s, a very difficult time for agriculture. Many good, hard working people weren't able to make ends meet. Low commodity prices and high interest rates forced some out of business and created significant losses and stress for those who survived. However it also presented opportunities for F&M. Some farmers were unable to obtain financing from their lender or were unhappy with the service they received, particularly cattle feeders.

Farm Credit and, what was at that time, PCA (Production Credit Association) had been very aggressive lenders to the point where rising interest rates made it impossible for many to pay their loans. F&M was able to refinance many of these new farm customers and continue financing its existing customers without foreclosures. Most of the new customers and the next generation of these families are important customers today. Being a consistent lender in good times and in challenging times was, and continues to be, an important part of F&M’s culture of supporting the economic vitality of our trade area.

The complexity of tax and legal matters would have made refinancing impossible for many farmers in the 80s, were it not for the expert accounting and tax services of the Jennifer Johnson accounting firm and legal services from Kevin Stroup, Attorney for the Stoneberg Giles and Stroup Law Office. Kevin currently serves on the F&M Board of Directors. Jennifer Johnson was a director at one time and worked for the bank for a brief period after selling her tax practice. Unfortunately, farmers have experienced low commodity prices over the last 4 years. The cold, wet spring isn’t helping either. No matter what happens in the short term, F&M is still bullish about farming. The bank and its employees have a tremendous appreciation for our customers large and small. Although F&M specializes in Agriculture and Small Business, it makes loans of all types.

Community banking is what we do and enjoy. It is a relationship business where the bank provides value by understanding each person's needs and fills individual needs to the best of our ability. F&M is always looking to add new products, services and technology to make banking and insurance more convenient such as online banking, mobile banking and mobile deposit, local ATM’s, ATM networks available in the US and foreign countries and other modern banking services.

Jolayne Streich is the current manager of F&M and Operations Manager for F&M and its affiliated banks. Loan officers are Paul Wilson, Kevin Sharkey and Jake Bothun. Jamie Olerud provides Loan Customer Service and is Compliance Officer for F&M and affiliates. Kim Flattum is HR and Technology Officer for F&M and all affiliated banks. Mary Brock, Cassie Schreier and Kim Craig take care of F&M customers at the teller window, customer service desk, drive up window and bookkeeping and Earl Craig takes care of the Clarkfield building as if it were his own. Insurance Services are available from Ruth Jahn and Ross Riecke in the bank building through an affiliated business, F&M Agency. Current Board members are Wes Husby, Kevin Stroup, John Virnig, Mary Jane Lindholm and Steve Lindholm.

Other locations of F&M are Renville and Olivia. Affiliates, which means banks owned by the same company, are Granite Falls Bank and Security State Bank of Fergus Falls. F&M has grown to $130 million in total assets and $90 Million in total loans. This growth has allowed F&M to increase employment opportunities for local staff, provide more products and services to its great customers and to provide financial resources to many great communities, farmers, business owners and individuals along the highway 212 corridor. Mark your calendars for the evening of Monday June 24th for the F&M 100 Year Anniversary celebration in Clarkfield. This is an opportunity for F&M to show its sincere appreciation for the tremendous long term support the community and surrounding area have provided. Watch the Advocate for details.