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Nov. 7, 2019
This paid piece is sponsored by The First National Bank in Sioux Falls.
It’s nicknamed “The Trucker Branch.”
And that’s not just because The First National Bank location just off Interstate 229 on Benson Road is nestled in an area dotted with industrial warehouses, truck and trailer dealerships, and truck repair shops.
It’s because the branch is known for providing specialty service to transportation industry customers – something that has been a key part of the bank’s business for more than 40 years.
With a unique understanding of the transportation industry, FNB is the local leader in financial services for truckers, trucking companies and freight brokers.
“We understand the importance of trucking to our economy,” said Russ Robers, a business banker who has served FNB’s transportation industry customers for more than 30 years.
“It’s essential to supporting the retail industry, the health care industry and countless others. And we’re happy to do our part to help make it all possible.”
Robers began his career at FNB’s Industrial Branch, which eventually would relocate to Benson Road. Since then, he has worked with some of the same customers he serves today. He has found that the relationships he has built have become more than just business – they’ve turned into friends and family.
“I’ve been working with some of these folks for 30 years, and they’ve become my friends,” he said. “We socialize together, we fish together, and we hunt together.”
Robers has found that the friendships he has made with customers have changed the way he thinks about trucking.
“I can tell you that stereotype that most people have is so far off,” he said. “They’re just hardworking business people that happen to drive a truck for a living. They are some of the very best people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Business banking administrative assistant Susan VanDyk has worked with trucking customers at Benson Road for 20 years. She also has seen trucking business customers become more than just customers.
“To me, they’re like family,” VanDyk said. “My mom passed away in December, and I was just amazed at the outpouring from people with their expressions of sympathy at the funeral because we are so connected. To work for a place where you feel that connection with customers means a lot.”
This relationships-first mentality is why FNB is the area’s top financial services provider for the transportation industry.
“We don’t know today who the successful people for tomorrow are going to be,” Robers said. “The person who is willing to work with someone when they really need help is going to get rewarded with a long-term relationship, especially if they’re successful. They’re not going to forget that.”
It takes more than just First National’s business bankers to serve the transportation industry clientele; it takes employees bankwide to provide excellent service to trucking customers.
“The entire bank is very familiar with the trucking industry,” Robers said. “We have a group of people that have been analyzing and helping bank trucks for years: the credit department, loan committee and the business banking team all know trucking.”
The business banking needs for transportation customers are just like those of any other business. FNB offers services such as equipment financing, facility building financing, credit cards, a mobile app and even retirement accounts through First National Wealth Management for transportation industry customers.
“We can cater those products too,” business banker Derek Simonsen said.
“What a transport business would need depends on the size of their business. We bank everything from a person who owns their own truck to companies that have over 100 trucks, and we have customers all over the state.”
With this diverse customer base in an industry that’s fast-paced and ever-changing, FNB offers extensive industry knowledge and a commitment to serving trucking customers at any time; something that other banks can’t do.
“We have guys who come in here and say, ‘My bank won’t touch a truck loan,’ ” Simonsen said. “Our industry knowledge and the willingness to work with those customers really sets us apart.”
Derek Simonsen (left) and Russ Robers (right)
For truckers, having a supportive bank can make a world of difference. Drivers are sometimes home for only two to three days at a time, creating a challenge to find time for their banking needs. Robers, Simonsen and their colleagues take that into account in their planning and accessibility. They meet with their larger trucking business customers on a regular basis in an effort to anticipate loans they’ll need and then work to get the loans approved before the customer actually needs them.
“We’ll have customers that will call us and say, ‘I bought a trailer an hour ago. I need money in an hour,’ ” Robers said. “They could send us that invoice right this moment and in an hour from now have loan documents ready for them if we’ve done all this work ahead of time.”
Dakota Carriers is a trucking operation within FNB’s business banking clientele. Owner Tim Schenk has worked in the trucking industry for 25 years and has found great success through his relationship with FNB, beginning in 2015 when he purchased Dakota Carriers.
“First National helped me combine two businesses (Schenk Trucking and Dakota Carriers), and they gave me a business plan to follow to make that work,” Schenk said. “They understand the trucking industry from top to bottom. They’re about the only people in town that do.”
For truckers and the transportation industry, if the wheels aren’t moving, there’s no income coming in. That’s why FNB is committed to helping truckers stay on the road by providing the banking services they need.
“If there are not trucks, we’ve all got problems,” Robers said. “There’s no other way to get things where they need to be. Trucks are the key to the economy.”
“They understand the trucking industry from top to bottom. They’re about the only people in town that do.” For decades, this bank has made a commitment to the trucking industry. And in return, their customers are now like family.