Great Northern Bank has officially merged with Hudson, WI-based First American Bank, creating one of the largest financial mergers in St. Michael history and changing the landscape of community banking here in northern Wright County.
The merger became official Monday, March 3 after months of review by state and federal regulators, including the FDIC.
Bank President Paul Ederer, a longtime member of the St. Michael community and servant on the St. Michael Economic Development Committee, said the merger combines two Twin Cities-based banks into one, stronger entity.
“From an operational standpoint, this merger combines two well-run banks with complementary management teams, and it will result in growth that neither bank could accomplish independently,” Ederer said. “We’re very pleased.”
First American will carry the flag for both banks, meaning a name change is in store for St. Michael’s largest community bank, which was established three decades ago. GNB was a major player in the city’s housing and business boom in the 1990s and 2000s, but had to pull in the reins, like many banks, during the foreclosure crisis and economic crash of 2008-2012.
First American will host an open house at the St. Michael location on Highway 241 during business hours Thursday, March 6. Officials will be on hand to answer questions, introduce themselves and talk about the new First American brand.
The merger “triples” First American’s lending power at the St. Michael branch, according to new Cheif Financial Officer John Malmberg, the president of the Hudson bank.
“For Great Northern customers, the merger will bring no immediate changes. You will continue to use your checking account, your checks and your debit card. The deposit and loan accounts will remain the same. The Bank’s hours will not change. Interest rates and terms will remain the same. The same knowledgeable, friendly staff will be there to assist you. Your calls will be answered by a human being. The only initial changes will be the name of the organization and its ability to make loans. By combining the two banks, the size of loans that Great Northern had been able to legally make nearly triples,” Malmberg said. “Once the operations areas of the two banks are merged, there will be some changes. The most noticeable changes involve the addition of electronic banking capabilities. Mobile banking applications will be available for both deposit and loan customers and will be expanded. Other electronic banking functions will be expanded. And, a larger organization allows for faster adoption of new technologies.”
GNB looked for a partner with a similar commitment to customer service and small-town banking that existed here in St. Michael, Ederer said. In First American, he believes the bank found a perfect partner.
“A lot of thought and effort has gone into this merger,” Malmberg said in agreement. “Both banks wanted to merge in order to expand their ability to grow the franchise. But, they did not want to change the bank’s personality. A key requirement of the merger was that the two banks had similar corporate philosophies. Those philosophies will continue to guide the bank.”
IF YOU GO:
What: First American Bank (Great Northern Bank) open house
Where: Great Northen Bank Building, Highway 241 and Melby Avenue, St. Michael
When: Business hours (8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Thursday, March 6