At the risk of sounding like an old country song, “happiness is 2020 in my rear-view mirror!” Yet, even as I say “goodbye” to the past year, I recognize there is also much to be thankful for as we look forward to a bright new year.
Living in Montana is at the top of this list.
We all know Montana is a special place with wide-open spaces, breathtaking landscapes, clean air and water, and resilient, hardworking and friendly people. Montana is truly the last best place. At no time in my 58 years was this more evident than 2020. Many others from across our nation gained greater appreciation for our unique lifestyle and now are new neighbors. My hope is they embrace our uniqueness, not change it; they help us improve our great state, not alter it.
We are equally thankful for all of you, our loyal customers.
While we have been open for business throughout the pandemic, we are delivering services primarily through our drive-up lanes and by appointment, after closing our lobbies for several weeks this past spring and fall. Calling ahead for appointments did create some inconveniences and eliminated the warm gathering place Stockman’s lobbies are known for.
Additionally, some customers learned and used new technology to accomplish their banking. We all know the learning curve and challenges of new ways. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s patience and trust. Hopefully soon, we can get back to giving you the full choice of banking how, when and where you want to bank, which now includes enhanced capabilities in mobile and online banking.
Thankful for our employees.
Lastly, on behalf of our officers, directors and owners, I thank our employees for their dedication and hard work. Many stepped up, gave extra effort and assumed greater responsibilities during the year. With increased numbers of our team working from home, out sick or taking care of family members, more was required of those who continued to staff our banks. Our community banking roots shone brightly through our very active participation in state and federal assistance programs.
For example, Stockman led the nation for the first 24 hours of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program. We knew these funds would be limited and many business customers would benefit from this important program, so our bankers across the state worked through the night to ensure hard-working Montanans would be taken care of during this challenging time.
Similarly, we led the state in many of the Montana Board of Investment (MBOI) programs. In fact, our customers were the largest group to benefit from the MBOI’s Loan Deferment Program, receiving almost one-third of all loans.
As we move forward into a new year, I congratulate our Stockman team for a job well done and hope our employees will reap all the benefits associated with increased responsibility and success as they continue to take great care of each other, our customers and our communities.
Here’s to 2021. Cheers!