Lou Geistfeld, President of Citizens Bank Minnesota, has been named 2013 “Bankers of the Year” by Northwestern Financial Review magazine, a Minneapolis-based community banking magazine covering 14 Midwestern states.
An award the magazine began in 1989, Geistfeld was recognized for his leadership of a unique bank with 400 community shareholders and a fun-loving staff that finds new ways to attract customers.
“In the last six years, while other banks have struggled to grow, Geistfeld and his staff have grown the bank by nearly a third,” the magazine writes.
“The one-time examiner who once wore the black suit, black tie and white ox-ford uniform of the FDIC could have turned-up his nose at a staff that has danced in the bank’s lobby, dressed up as electric guitar playing snowmen in the town parade, and even invented a checking account whose name resembles the screams of someone riding a roller-coaster. But Geistfeld hasn’t turned up his nose. Instead he instilled and supported a high-spirited culture and has added his own banking skill; the combination has made Citizens the bank it is today,” the magazine adds.
Geistfeld will appear on the cover of the January 15 edition of the publication, which hits subscribers’ mail boxes this week. Geistfeld will receive his award from Northwestern Financial Review at Citizens Bank Minnesota's downtown location in New Ulm on Jan 14.
The letter of nomination was received by the employees of Citizens Bank in New Ulm. This is the letter of nomination they submitted:
The employees of Citizens Bank Minnesota would like to nominate L.H. (Lou) Geistfeld, President, Citizens Bank Minnesota for the Banker of the Year Award.
In 2012, under Lou’s leadership Citizens Bank Minnesota
• Was instrumental in obtaining a $455,000 historic tax credit for The Grand Center For Arts and Culture (a local non-profit) for building development. The tax credit monies will be used to restore a beautiful old building with historic significance. The restored building will be a regional hub for arts and culture and will draw people to the area. In addition, the $1.9 million building and renovation project will provide many local jobs as the General Contractor and many sub contractors are from the New Ulm area.
• Launched an intense Go Local campaign Monday, November 19, 2012 and has challenged his 80 staff to shop their local communities first throughout this holiday season and throughout 2013. A goal of $200,000 has been set for all employees to spend money locally in November and December 2012. As of November 30, 2012 our staff has spent $105,000.
• Supports the Heart of New Ulm health and fitness initiative for bank employees and allowed it to be integrated with weight loss & exercise programs in the bank including exercise classes after banking hours in the lobby. By supporting this initiative there has been over 600 pounds lost by 24 employees.
Page 2 of 2 - For the past 25 years the bank has grown and flourished under Lou’s leadership. Lou became the President in 1987 at the age of 34. Seeking to provide clients with more comprehensive services in 1989 an insurance agency was added. In 1992, Citizens expanded with the purchase of a branch office in Lafayette and saw the opportunity once again in 1998 with the expansion of LaSalle. Looking to continue to grow and diversify, a branch in Lakeville was opened in 2004. Citizens continuously is awarded the Bauer Financial Superior 5-Star rating, their highest rating.
Citizens Bank Minnesota has extremely low employee turnover. A large part of that is due to the indescribably awesome work culture for employees. The employees are engaged, happy and passionate about their work. There are numerous programs that Lou has supported that create this environment from Take This Job & Love It; to CR8, a program that promotes a light-hearted fun atmosphere at work; to Strive, a program that promotes volunteerism and learning opportunities for our employees. Just one example of that is the Citizens Relay For Life Team, which has been the top fundraiser for Brown County and has raised well over $100,000 over the past 10 years.
The employees of Citizens Bank Minnesota 100% support the nomination of Lou Geistfeld for Banker of the Year.