A legacy begins
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 by helping in the legal transactions of a bank sale. It sparked his interest, and he was eager to respond to a friend’s invitation to visit Oakes and see the local bank for sale there.
The First National Bank of Oakes had been a cornerstone of the business community since its chartering 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 were in sharp contrast to the conservative businessmen running the bank and holding the reins on progress.
Frank and JoAndrea Larson purchased First National Bank of Oakes 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 those banks for 20 years before purchasing the well-established First Southwest Bank of Mandan in 1989.
Growing and expanding
In 1993, the company expanded across the river into North Dakota’s capital city with the purchase of Northwestern Savings & Loan in downtown Bismarck. Two years later, the Larsons’ banks merged into a single state-chartered bank and took the name First Southwest Bank. The company added new branches in Bismarck-Mandan throughout the late 1990s and also began looking for new markets.
Aspiring to expand, the company looked for a new name that would grow with it over time and across geographies and encompass its full line of financial services, including banking, mortgage, insurance and investments. We chose Starion Financial as our new name in 2003.
Our search for new markets led us to Madison, Wis. We noticed similarities between Bismarck and Madison: both are state capital cities, highly regarded for quality of life, major healthcare hubs, have agrarian roots and strong Midwestern values. Starion Financial opened a branch in Madison in 2006 and moved to our current building in Middleton in 2008. That same year, we expanded within North Dakota into the state’s largest city. Fargo is a strong community with a diverse economy and excellent upward potential.
We added branches in the northern North Dakota communities of Dunseith, Rolla and Bottineau with our purchase of 106-year-old, family-owned Security State Bank in 2011. We grew our presence in the Madison, WI area with the addition of our branch in the eastern suburb, Sun Prairie in 2013 and Monona in 2015.
Big enough to make a difference, small enough to care
Our history is a story of changing for the times, while keeping the ways of doing business 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 $1.2 billion among 15 locations in North Dakota and Wisconsin today. We’ve never forgotten what got us to 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 run the organization with today.
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