Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a girl, fresh out of college with a BS in Secondary Education-Biology Major, Earth Science Minor-who had just spent the summer in the hay field.
That John Deere B tractor and the dump rake with a rope pull lost a lot of attraction after a time in the heat. I was told there was a teller opening at First Security Bank & Trust of Miles City, and my brain screamed “air-conditioning”.
They took a chance and hired me.
I started on 8-16-1971, at $325 per month. I bet the head teller wished she hadn’t. She often let me start balancing 15 minutes ahead of the other tellers just so she could go home before dark.
Once I got it, I got it! This job is the best job I have ever had, and the bosses I have worked with are the best on the planet.
Of course, this is the only job I have ever had, and Bill Nefsy, the founder of Stockman Bank, Bob Lucas, Loyd Sohl and Stan Markuson are the only bosses I have ever worked with!
So much has changed in banking over the years. Technology has made some processes easier, but it wasn’t that way when I started in banking.
Can you believe we came to work in the early bright (3:00 a.m.ish) once a month to put out every single checking and savings statement for every single customer in the bank?
Remember, every statement had to be bursted (separating paper from carbon), the checks and deposit slips had to be counted and agree with the statement. The items had to be inserted, sealed, sorted according to zip code, and mailed—and they all cut off on the 1st of the month!
Did you know every single transaction that occurred during the day had to be balanced and
key-punched on a card? Then, all of the boxes of cards had to be delivered to Rowland, Thomas & Company for processing, and the journals for checking, savings and loans had to be completed by the next day.
Every single day, every single check or savings ticket had to be hand-filed in giant drawers in bookkeeping. Every day-every one!
At that time, the Mission in Ashland flew their deposits to Miles City, where we picked up an airplane load of trays and trays and trays of work, balanced them, ran them through the accounts, and processed everything…a huge undertaking.
All loan payments were hand calculated. Later, they were referenced from a journal, and all escrow payments were calculated by hand.
We had a lot of fun. We were a family, and we were trying to grow this Bank. Bill, Bob, Jim Sims (who was known to help Bill calve heifers in a pinch), Jerry McKibbin and Eddie worked long hours traveling to surrounding ranches and farms paying calls.
Officer hours were typically from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (or longer). We were expected to attend all functions and be active in our community.
It was a rarity that a function in Miles City or the surrounding towns was not attended by one or more of us, whether it was an anniversary celebration, a fundraiser, sports or a school event. I can recommend the Pancake Suppers at Plevna.
During this time, Bill Nefsy, Bob Mountain (CPA & owner of Rowland, Thomas & Company & our Chairman of the Board), and R.H. Twiford, an attorney-friend of Bill’s from Wyoming, became concerned about our customers who sold their product, and had the proceeds held until later.
They devised our deferred payment program, originally named R. H. Twiford & Associates, now called Stockman Exchange, Inc. This service, drafted by those worthies, provides a valuable service to our customers, both current and potential.
The purchase of Glendive and Sidney was a giant accomplishment for this little cow town bank, but it was only the beginning.
The advent of computer technology provided additional work and continued growth. While not without risk, technology continues to provide opportunities and more convenient ways for our customers to bank.
We have never forgotten that the customer is our source of life, we cannot exist without them. Personal customer service is paramount; it is all we can offer that cannot be found in other institutions.
Bill Nefsy would be proud of what his family has accomplished, adding more branches, building more buildings, employing more people, and serving more customers well and faithfully.
The days of keypunching have morphed into the days of keyboarding, and increased regulations continue to challenge community banks, with more time and resources directed toward compliance.
However, Stockman Bank has continued to put customers first, remaining faithful to its original motto, “The Friendly, Full Service Bank.”
I miss Bill’s boots on my desk as he and L. P. Anderson, Sam Ohnstad, Don Muggli, Ed Regan, C.M. Coffee or any number of customers and friends conversed.
I learned a lot! Men of their caliber will not be seen again. I miss L.P.’s laugh, I miss doing Bill and C.M.’s dictation,(shorthand comes in handy). I miss the old days, but it is time for a new adventure.
I leave you with my thanks and with fond memories of my forty-seven years in banking. I want to wish all of the branches the very best in their endeavors in the future. May you have continued growth, fewer regulations (!) and a profitable future.
Linda Fae Wiedeman, VP
Linda, from all of us at Stockman Bank, we will miss you and wish you all the best in retirement.