For Laine Lazers, pesident of Farmers State Bank of Waupaca, the most impressive thing about the financial institution is its long-term stability.
Founded on Jan. 11, 1911, Farmers State was one of only a few banks that did not close during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Since it first opened its doors 114 years ago, Farmers State Bank has had nine presidents.
The last two presidents preceding Lazers, Fran Vergauwen and Reuben Danielsen, led the bank for a total of 41 years.
“We have longevity among all of our employees,” Lazers said.
The Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce selected Farmers State Bank as the 2014 Large Business of the Year. The award was announced at the Chamber’s annual banquet Tuesday, Jan. 27.
Over the years, Farmers State Bank has also responded to changes in the banking industry.
From 1911 to 1966, the bank was located on the corner of Main and Fulton streets, where its time-and-temperature can still be seen.
Farmers State Bank moved to its current main branch office in March 1966. It built a branch on Churchill Street in 1989, then a second branch on County Trunk QQ in King in December 1991.
In May 1998, Farmers State Bank built its drive-through branch across Session Street from the main office.
“The Auto Branch serves as a separate branch,” according to Vice President Jay Krcmar. “They have taken on their own identity and have their own hours.”
The drive-through branch is open at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. on Fridays. It is also open from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
All branch offices have drive-throughs with ATMs.
Expansion into Wild Rose and Fremont followed. Then, as more customers began using the drive-through bank downtown, Farmers State closed its Churchill Branch in October 2006.
“We’ve invested in technology so that our customers can have 24/7 access to their accounts,” Lazers said, noting that Farmers State offers online banking, mobile banking, email statements and direct deposit, as well as access through ATMs.
Krcmar noted that two of Waupaca’s largest employers, the foundry and the veterans home, have three shifts.
“We have customers who need access to their accounts at different times of the day,” Krcmar said.
Farmers State Bank now emails about 4,500 statements each month, which represents more than half of its nearly 8,000 customers.
“We have third, fourth and fifth generation customers who open an account here because they remember their grandparents opening an account or getting a loan here,” Lazers said. “We’re also making sure that we keep up with the new technology that our customers are looking for.”
Lazes noted that employees at Farmers State are also active in the local community.
“All of our employees are involved in organizations, on boards, volunteering for different functions that go on in the community,” Lazers said. “Farmers State Bank was established on the philosophy of being a small-town bank that seves its community. We plan to continue that philosophy into the future.”