The following is a brief interview between WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and Bank of Prairie du Sac President Steve Ploetz.
Rose: How did you first get into the banking industry?
Steve: My father, Charlie Ploetz, was an attorney in Prairie du Sac. He had been practicing law since 1945 and when my mother passed away in 1968, he began thinking about a career change. He had made the decision to move out West in 1970. However, Edward Gruber, the Bank of Prairie du Sac’s president at that time, heard of my dad’s plan and approached him about buying his shares and taking over at the bank. As a result, Dad became a banker.
In 1976, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin– Madison and joined my dad at the bank in 1977. I am proud to say that I am still here today.
What is your favorite aspect of your role at your bank?
Like other community bankers, I really enjoy working with people to help them be successful. Whether it’s employees or customers, helping them achieve their goals is especially rewarding.
What do you wish the general public understood about the banking industry?
The role we play in supporting our communities and the differences between banks and credit unions. I’m not sure the general public understands that their deposits are what fund the loans we make back out in our communities. I also don’t believe they understand the tax advantages credit unions enjoy.
Where do you believe the industry’s greatest challenges are in the next three to five years?
Margins, growth, credit quality, and cyber criminals are sure to be significant challenges our industry will face. Cyber is what scares me the most; technology is changing so fast, and the bad guys are really smart. Keeping our banks and our customers safe from cybercrime will be one of our greatest challenges.
Please describe your current role at your bank and share with us one of your more rewarding experiences.
After 40 plus years, there have been so many special people, businesses, charities, and community events. But it’s all the little things that keep me going.
Recently, a customer I hadn’t talked to in years came to thank me for the loan I gave her 30 years ago to help start her business. She came in to share that she had just sold her business and was retiring. As she left my office, I told her she had just made my day, which made us both smile. You cannot put a price tag on lasting relationships with customers, businesses, and employees, and it is wonderful to hear you have made an impact on people’s lives.