We've grown bigger, but our strong Midwestern values will never change.

Building a Legacy, One Community at a Time

An enthusiastic beginning

The Starion Bank story is one of small-town principles, commitment to our communities and genuine concern for our customers.

Back in 1969, Frank Larson, a young Valley City lawyer, was introduced to banking when he became involved in the legal transactions of a bank sale. His interest sparked, he eagerly responded to a friend’s invitation to visit Oakes and tour the local bank for sale there.

The First National Bank of Oakes had been a cornerstone of the business community since being chartered in 1886, when Dakota was still a Territory. What Frank saw was a prosperous, thriving small town. Yet the eager faces of young store owners up and down Main Street stood in sharp contrast to the ultra-cautious businessmen running the bank and holding the reins on progress.

Seeing pent-up potential, Frank and JoAndrea Larson purchased the Oakes bank in 1969, and the First National Bank & Trust Company in Ellendale, ND, a year later. The Larsons placed their banks in the hands of managers with energy and enthusiasm and operated them for 20 years before purchasing the well-established First Southwest Bank of Mandan in 1989.

Craig Larson (left) and Frank Larson (right)
Pictured: Craig Larson (left) and Frank Larson (right)

More branches and a new name

In 1993, the growing financial enterprise expanded across the river into North Dakota’s capital city, with the purchase of Northwestern Savings & Loan in downtown Bismarck. Two years later, the Larson banks merged into a single, state-chartered institution under the name First Southwest Bank. The new company added branches in Bismarck-Mandan throughout the late 1990s and also began looking for new markets.

Our search for new markets first led to Madison, Wisconsin. We noticed similarities between Bismarck and Madison: both are state capital cities, highly regarded for quality of life, major healthcare hubs. And just as importantly, they have agrarian roots and strong Midwestern values. Starion opened a branch in Madison in 2006 and moved to our current building in Middleton in 2008. We grew our presence with the addition of branches in the suburbs of Sun Prairie and Monona.

During that time, the bank continued expanding expanded within North Dakota. Fargo a strong community with a diverse economy and excellent upward potential, opened the first branch in 2008, with two more following in later years. We added branches in the northern North Dakota communities of Dunseith, Rolla and Bottineau in 2011 with our purchase of the family-owned Security State Bank. 

In 2016, the bank changed its name to Starion Bank, to reflect our mission to "take you farther." While we offer insurance and investment products that allow our customers to fit their entire financial lives under one roof, the name Starion Bank reflects our focus on being as a community bank. Starion Insurance and Starion Investments remain strong brands in their own right, with loyal customer bases. 
Starion Bank in downtown Bismarck, North Dakota
Pictured: Starion Bank in downtown Bismarck, North Dakota

Working hard to live up to our good name

Our history is a story of changing with the times, while keeping business practices that never need changing. We answer phones in person, entrust our experienced bankers to make local decisions and build lasting relationships with our customers with regard for their personal dreams.

We have been rewarded with phenomenal growth: from $5 million in assets at our bank in Oakes in 1969 to more than $1.8 billion among 16 locations in North Dakota and Wisconsin today.

But we’ve never forgotten what got us here. In small towns like the ones where we got our start, you are only as good as your reputation - and your reputation is only as good as your actions. That’s the kind of accountability we still demand from ourselves each and every day.


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