By Chris Schneider, Nicolet National Bank

How nice it was to finally get together again as a group after two years of modified delivery of our annual WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference. The long-awaited return of the fully in-person conference was marked with great attendance, over 160 attendees including 130 bankers from across the state.

Always a highly-rated presenter, Eric Snodgrass, Science Fellow from Nutrien Ag Solutions, provided a detailed presentation on weather patterns and his prediction for this year’s weather forecast and the impact on crops in certain regions of the country. His long range predictions have been very accurate in past years. One of his topics that I found particularly of interest was the impact of Hurricane Ida on the supply chain.

Next up, Dr. Chad Hart, Iowa State University, took the stage and discussed marketing and risk management. He addressed many topics including the overall production of corn, beans, and wheat, and how the shifting of acres planted is impacted by certain factors; the Ukraine crisis and how that will affect global markets and shift exporting countries with commodities that come from them; and higher priced corn and the effects on exports. He also outlined how input cost and availability issues have increased cost dramatically and how that impacts if/when farmers can get products.

Wilson Law Group’s Daniel Purtell presented on estate planning brought out a lot of questions from conference attendees. Plan, Plan & Plan was the theme. We all know how most farmers like to plan, most are “reactive” folks. Don’t leave Ralph, the farmer’s son who was an underachiever his whole life, the farm because he will lose it. It’s never too early to plan for the next
generation.

Mike North from Ever.Ag was up next with marketing ideas for all commodities. He discussed marketing protection products and how they use these different types of items to protect milk, feed, and other items, sharing that less fluid milk and more cheese is what drives Wisconsin dairy plants. Cheese use increases on a yearly basis and is consumed in a variety of foods. The effects of European markets reducing production will help our country with driving more exports.

Ed Elfmann updated attendees on ABA’s priorities in Washington; from covering all the seats that are changing to policy updates. CFPB 1071 Rule, Farm debt declines at the end of 2020 somewhat due to additional government money, net farm income increasing, payments to farmers decline in 2021. The farm size has also changed; 9% of farms account for 33% of assets and 89% of farms are small but hold 60% of assets. Issues that should be top of mind for ag bankers include the Farm Bill hearings, as the current bill will expire in 2023; ECORA legislation; Farm Credit issues and the leveling of the playing field for banks vs Farm Credit; and RNG and Carbon credits and how this is getting driven into new income opportunities for farmers.

WBA’s John Cronin provided the Wisconsin update, covering the state budget and future policy discussions; shared what seats are up in the Wisconsin state assembly; and shared the budget and rule making process going forward.

AMPI was represented by their CEO and Co-President Sheryl Meshke. She talked about their markets and different facilities. AMPI is Co-op owned by farmers in multiple states and highlighted 50 plus years in business, producing award-winning products. Sheryl highlighted products including Dinner Bell Creamery, Co-op Crafted Promise, and Crystal Farm cheese. She expanded on how AMPI monitors the markets to stabilize and build business with their products.

Lastly Penn Vieau, a leadership expert, provided how to positively look at day to day activities. Have a positive mindset, positive thoughts, practice gratitude with purpose. Control, Influence, Accept. Attendees were encouraged to create goals that create new drive and energy, and importantly, goals that are achievable.

If you were unable to join us for this year’s annual conference, I hope that you will consider joining us in 2023. Watch for the 2023 conference dates to be announced soon to the Ag Section membership.

 

Chris Schneider is the current chair of the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board of Directors and is the vice president, agricultural banking with Nicolet National Bank in Appleton.

Adam K. Bradley

Three new directors joined the remaining four directors on the board at State Bank of Reeseville (SBR) starting on the first of the New Year. The vacancies were left by two board members who retired effective December 31, 2021. The two retirees are Gerald W. Yerges and Robert D. Kohn.

Yerges was a longtime employee at SBR, he started his employment as an assistant cashier (1962) and was elected president in 1984. He served as president until his retirement in 2007. He continued to serve on the board until 2021, for a total of 59 years with the bank. Kohn is a former dairy farmer in the area. He helped support the growth of the banks agriculture portfolio in addition to the banks overall operations. He faithfully served on the board for 29 years (1993).

Brandon M. Mueller

The four remaining directors: Jerry L. Adams (president & CEO), John E. Leistico, Scott E. Lenius, and George L. Neuberger, Jr. voted to appoint three new directors to fill the vacancies.

Debra L. Polsin

The appointed directors are Adam K. Bradley, Brandon M. Mueller, and Debra L. Polsin. Bradley is the current senior vice president and controller at SBR, he began his employment in 2019. Mueller previously served as vice president – lending at SBR from 2014–2016 and is currently an independent Insurance Agent in Watertown. Polsin is the banks former cashier and operations officer and spent a total of 36 years with SBR from 1982–2018.

Adams stated, “The diversity and banking knowledge of these three prominent individuals will support the strategic goals of our organization. Their rich history with our financial institution will provide an unrivaled advantage to help us meet our goals.”

Waukesha State Bank, a full-service community bank with 14 locations in Waukesha County, has hired Kevin McElmeel as a mortgage consultant. McElmeel will be responsible for originating mortgage loans, which includes meeting with prospects, taking mortgage applications, counseling borrowers, and developing relationships with Realtors, builders, financial service providers, and various community groups.

McElmeel started his career with Waukesha State Bank in September of 2012 as a teller. For five years, he took on increasing roles and responsibilities in the retail banking department including customer service representative, assistant teller supervisor, teller supervisor, and personal banker. When he left the bank in 2017, he was the bank manager of the Mukwonago office.

In the subsequent years following his departure, McElmeel worked for two different mortgage brokers, most recently as a senior loan officer with Prosperity Home Mortgage. With his five years of residential lending experience, he has developed a thorough understanding of agency and government mortgage products and consistently exceeds customer expectations with their home buying needs.

“We are pleased to welcome Kevin back to Waukesha State Bank and specifically to our mortgage lending team,” stated Robert B. Helvey, Waukesha State Bank senior vice president – mortgage lending manager. “His residential lending experience, combined with his strong customer service skills, adds depth to our team as we look to expand our mortgage customer base.”

McElmeel will be based out of the Waukesha State Bank Delafield (3293 Golf Road) and Mukwonago (1160 N. Rochester Street) locations, servicing all of southeastern Wisconsin. He and his family currently reside in Mukwonago.

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Aimee Larsson

Port Washington State Bank (PWSB) is pleased to announce the recent promotions of four of its employees.

Aimee Larsson has been promoted to retail processing manager at PWSB. She earned her finance degree from UW–La Crosse and has worked in community banking for 24 years, 14 of which have been at PWSB. During her time at PWSB, Larsson has expertly led the underwriting team for most of those years. “Aimee is vital to the loan department, and her remarkable talent for motivating and uniting her coworkers makes her the perfect person to oversee a successful team that is critical to helping our customers reach their financial goals,” commented James Schowalter, president and COO.

Mike Ott

Mike Ott has been promoted to loan servicing manager at PWSB. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and has been in community banking since 2009, when he started his career at PWSB. Serving in a wide variety of roles, starting as a teller, moving on to personal banking, continuing on to be a junior underwriter, and most recently focusing on commercial credit, Ott has been a real asset to the bank, learning the banking industry, and specifically PWSB, from the ground up. “Mike eagerly embraces challenges and is driven to master new skills, which earned him this promotion,” pointed out Joel Dykstra, vice president – chief credit officer.

Zach Deming

Zach Deming has been promoted to small business lender at PWSB. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Business School. Upon graduation, Deming worked at PWSB as a personal banker at the Cedarburg branch. Most recently, he moved to the Port Washington location where he began to specialize in mortgage lending and has quickly taken on more responsibility. “Zach’s passion for lending and his desire to help small business owners made him the natural choice for this newly created position,” remarked Dykstra.

Heidi Pautz

Heidi Pautz has been promoted to controller for PWSB. Pautz worked at PWSB as an accounting intern while pursuing her degree at Cardinal Stritch University. Immediately after graduation, she accepted a financial accounting analyst position at PWSB, where she has worked for 12 years. Recently Pautz earned her CPA license, adding to her level of mastery. “As a life-long learner who is passionate about her area of specialization, we value Heidi’s contribution to our accounting department,” stated Schowalter.

“At PWSB, we encourage employees to pursue what they love doing and advance their careers accordingly. We offer training and resources to help facilitate this, knowing that employees who can navigate their own career paths help us recruit and retain the most talented team players, which are our greatest asset,” explained Schowalter.

Pictured: Mark W. Mohr (center), Bank Five Nine president and CEO; Nicole Bessert (right), ProHealth Care Foundation development officer; and Melissa Schwind (left), Bank Five Nine corporate assistant branch manager.

Bank Five Nine recently donated $5,000 to ProHealth Care Foundation’s two signature events of ‘Walks for Cancer’ and ‘On Angel Wings Gala’.

During the upcoming Walk for Cancer event, participants may choose their own path for a two mile walk to support cancer care during the month of May. While concern about cancer is universal, money raised from these walks stays in Waukesha County, having a direct impact on our families, friends, and neighbors. As a long-time supporter of this annual event, Bank Five Nine has also formed a team to participate and raise additional funds for this cause. If you would like more information or to register for the walk, please visit www.ProHealthCare.org/WalksforCancer.

The On Angels Wings Gala raises funds to benefit ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice. This hospice center is a 24/7 sanctuary for people receiving compassionate end-of-life care. Money raised from this event helps to make sure no one is denied hospice care due to a lack of financial resources. Additional details for this event are still to be announced. For information on this event, please visit https://www.prohealthcare.org.

“As a true community bank, Bank Five Nine’s mission is to ‘Make Lives Better’ and donating to impactful events such as these is a sure way to do that,” said Heather Dewey, senior marketing representative.

First Business Bank is pleased to welcome Nezih Hasanoglu, Jr. to First Business Bank’s advisory board in its southeast Wisconsin market.

“We’re very fortunate Nezih joined our Advisory Board,” said Kevin Kane, president of First Business Bank’s southeast Wisconsin market. “His leadership and dedication to helping M3 Insurance serve businesses throughout his career, and his insights into the Milwaukee market, bring significant value to our team.”

Nezih Hasanoglu Jr. is the executive vice president of business development, a partner, and a member of the executive operating committee at M3 Insurance. He is responsible for the overall direction, strategy, long-term planning, and performance of M3’s business development, marketing, and mergers & acquisitions teams.

Hasanoglu Jr. earned his MBA from the Wisconsin School of Business at University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2013 and completed his undergraduate work at Vanderbilt University in 2002 where he earned a bachelor of science degree. He was also a member of the Vanderbilt football team from 1998–2002. Hasanoglu Jr. joined M3 in October 2004 and was named partner in January 2013. He served in a variety of sales and leadership roles before advancing to his current position in July 2020. Hasanoglu Jr. is licensed in both property and casualty and life and health. He serves on the Zoological Society of Milwaukee board of directors.

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

For 130 years, advocacy has been at the core of WBA’s mission and a key focus of the banking industry. While advocacy is not directly in the job description of most banking positions, bankers have long recognized that being actively engaged in all aspects of advocacy helps preserve the franchise value of banks.

I’m incredibly proud of how many bankers took time out of their busy schedules to send letters, make calls, participate in hearings in Madison, travel to Washington, D.C., attend public meetings of elected officials, and personally contribute to the industry’s political action funds throughout this last year! All of these efforts were critically important to augment WBA’s own work in achieving policy success for our industry. Recently, we mailed each member the WBA Advocacy Report which highlights the industry’s advocacy accomplishments this biennium. It was a very active session with WBA working hard on both offense and defense!

In that same mailing, each member received a copy of our Advocacy Toolkit which contains our annual fundraising request for political funds from you, your team, and your bank. With the number of banks in the state shrinking, it is more important than ever for everyone to step up and contribute to this industry effort. I recognize that the money side of advocacy is not always the most appealing; however, it is critical to make sure those who support banking are elected to office in Madison and in Washington, D.C. Our goal for this calendar year is to raise $300,000 — a feat we have not accomplished in the last four years. Ideally, we would welcome every banker contributing as even small dollar contributions help make a big difference. I personally give at least $4,000 each year, and I encourage executive management to give generously this year as well since our livelihoods depend on the success of this great industry. In 2021, 152 bankers earned the Silver Triangle award by contributing at least $500 to our advocacy efforts. I encourage new members to consider joining at the Silver Triangle level and urge existing members to double, triple, or quadruple their donation amount. Your contribution to any combination of the Wisbankpac, ABW, or the issue advocacy fund would dramatically move WBA closer to achieving its calendar year fundraising goal.

In addition to personal contributions, I encourage each bank to consider making an issue advocacy contribution. This is a corporate contribution, payable to WBA, that we use to join with our business coalition partners to create pro-business public policy messages. These dollars are also extremely helpful to achieve our advocacy goals. I welcome and encourage corporate contributions of any amount; and for those whose bank give at least $5,000, we are hosting three special outings in Kohler, June 20–21, that two individuals may attend.

Finally, the WBA advocacy team is very willing to come and speak in person to your staff and/or board of directors on our current advocacy work. I promise this is not going to only be a sales pitch for money (although we will mention political giving at the end). Our team is able to structure the presentation in a manner to which you prefer and can include talking about policy issues affecting the banking industry here in Wisconsin and in DC, as well as redistricting, key legislative races, regulatory initiatives, and other similar topics. Contact me anytime to schedule this type of presentation.

If you did not receive the Advocacy Toolkit in the mail or would like additional fundraising templates/materials to share with your staff, please let me know. Thank you for all you do to advocate for the banking industry!

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Prevail Bank’s Branch Manager Kristi Anderson and Greg Garton, vice president – commercial lending officer (center), presented a check to the Baraboo Area Homeless Shelter located at 1200 Silver Circle. Accepting the check on behalf of the organization were (left to right): Nicole Tidwell, Shauna Vick, Father Dave Mowers, Hailey Wiesert, and Angela Witczak.

Prevail Bank donated $7,500 to support the Baraboo Area Homeless Shelter. The donated funds will help cover the operating and utility expenses, excluding salaries, of the homeless shelter located at 1200 Silver Circle.

“We are proud to support the Baraboo Area Homeless Shelter and the individuals and families of Sauk County,” said Kristi Anderson, Prevail Bank branch manager – Baraboo. “We’re a community bank that is passionate about economic development, and the financial stability and growth of individuals, families, and businesses.”

“We provide shelter and services to persons experiencing homelessness in Baraboo,” said Nicole Tidwell, Shelter program director. “It is our goal to help our clients transform their lives. Prevail Bank’s donation is greatly appreciated and will certainly assist us in this endeavor.”

The Shelter started a fundraising campaign last November; contributions are still being accepted.

“We’ve raised almost $130,000 to date,” said Angela Witczak, board director and fundraising chair. “With homelessness on the rise, Prevail Bank’s donation, and others like it, could be considered a life-saver for many adults and children. It’s the difference between a warm bed, hot food, and sleeping on the cold street hungry.”

The Charitable Contributions program of Prevail Bank is available for local non-profits that help local people in need, especially those with low-to-moderate incomes; stimulate communities financially; and/or enhances the standard of living of those less fortunate. If an organization is interested in applying for funds for a major initiative, go to: Prevail.bank/resources/community.

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Legacy Private Trust Company is proud to announce a corporate re-brand to honor their 18th year of business. Legacy was founded in 2004, and at the time, our founders developed the original logo to convey an image of success, growth, and upward-trending results. The average lifespan of a corporate logo is ten years. While our original logo has served us well, we felt the need to undergo a brand revitalization to reflect continual changes in technology and to resonate with future generations of clients without alienating our existing client base.

Several aspects of the logo have remained the same, such as our corporate colors and typefaces. However, to avoid any confusion with the cell phone battery or network connectivity icons that did not exist 18 years ago, the decision was made by senior leadership to update the logo graphic. Legacy’s new logo positions us for a bright future and provides our clients and employees with clear and compelling messaging that speaks to our mission and business goals.

To reflect the updated branding, Legacy also launched a new website. The new site is designed to improve the user experience, contains more information about our company, and is more engaging. Key features of the new site include added video content and photography featuring our staff, a revised list of our service offerings, and a focus on who we are and how we stand out from our competition.

Mike Backaus has joined National Exchange Bank & Trust as the bank’s enterprise risk manager and chief information security officer.

Backaus joined the bank with more than 12 years of experience in compliance, risk, and security through roles as security officer, AVP – compliance officer, and VP – compliance officer. In his position, he will oversee the enterprise risk for NEBAT, ensuring that the bank is securely managing threats, data, and sensitive information with a proactive approach to security.

Backaus grew up in Black River Falls where he attended Black River Falls Senior High. He went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in finance from UW-Eau Claire. Backaus has also completed the Graduate School of Banking at UW-Madison earning the GSB Diploma and a Leadership Certificate. In addition he holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.

Backaus now resides in Brookfield with his family.