Standing strong for a century

GOWRIE – Security Savings Bank, a financial institution that serves several central Iowa communities, just turned 100. The bank got its start in 1914 in Slifer.

“There were a number of farmers who got together, pooled some funds and decided they would start a bank,” said Steven Lane, its current president and chief executive officer.

The initial focus was providing financial services to the agricultural community. That remains a big part of the bank’s agenda 10 decades later, but is only part of the story.

“We’re still pretty much an agricultural bank,” Lane said. “I would say 65 to 75 percent of our business is agriculture one way or another. Of course, we serve the whole community, so we have some small businesses, residential, consumer loans, things like that.”

While not a banking giant, Security Savings Bank can address a broad spectrum of financial needs.

“We’re full-service lending,” Lane said. “We have an Internet site. We have Internet banking. We offer a debit card.”

He added that through a broker, Visa and MasterCard credit cards are also offered.

Security Savings Bank has offices in Boxholm, Dayton, Farnhamville, Gowrie, Harcourt and Lehigh, all of which are full-services banking locations. Its charter office is at 1015 Market St., Gowrie. The charter was moved there from Farnhamville in December 1996. The bookkeeping operations are still headquartered in Farnhamville. The bank was originally named the Slifer Savings Bank. The current name was adopted when its charter was moved to Farnhamville in 1934 and the Slifer office was closed.

Today Security Savings Bank has assets of approximately $125 million and continues to strengthen its financial position, according to Lane.

“We’ve had about a 5 to 6 percent growth every year,” he said.

The bank’s investment in and commitment to the communities it serves are the keys to its success, Lane said.

“It’s been our loyalty to our communities,” he said. “I think we’ve always strived to try to help people. During the farm crises we stuck with them when things were tough. I think we’ve had loyal customers. We know our customers.”

The individualized service that is the hallmark of many community banks is very much in evidence at Security Savings Bank.

“I think at the big banks, a lot of their decisions are made outside,” Lane explained. “We’re locally owned. We make our own decisions. Loan decisions are made here. … We try to offer a friendly service and help people. … I think most of our employees have been good community citizens, involved in the community. Being involved in the communities is very important. We strive to help our communities the best way we can.”

Lane said part of the bank’s mission is to help the towns where it does business succeed.

“I’d like to think we’ve had a hand in keeping good businesses here,” he said. “We try to keep our main streets vital.”

He said the bank’s focus on helping the area thrive has been reciprocated by strong customer support and loyalty.

Meet the Lanes

Steven Lane has been the bank’s president since 1993. He joined the staff team at Security Savings Bank 38 years ago.

“I originally was from Gowrie,” Lane said, reflecting on how that came to pass. “We were living up in the Minnesota area. One of the Madson brothers asked me if I was interested in banking. … We had two little boys and I decided it was time to move back closer to home. So we came back here in 1976 and have been here ever since.”

After graduating from Prairie High School in 1967, Lane continued his education at Mankato State University in Minnesota where he earned a B.S. in business and accounting. After college he worked for four years for Wilson Foods before returning to Iowa to start a career in banking.

Lane and his wife, Renae Lane, who have been married 44 years, are both employed at the bank. So too are two of their three children. Bradley Lane is executive vice president. Brian Lane is a loan officer and a vice president. Tiffany Lane Christenson teaches school in Altoona. Steven and Renae Lane have eight grandchildren.

Steven Lane said after nearly four decades he remains enthusiastic about his career choice.

“I enjoy the people,” he said. “I enjoy visiting with people. I think my biggest reward is knowing that there are people out there that we have helped.”

About Security Savings Bank

Lane said Oscar Madson, the bank’s first cashier a century ago and later its president, and members of his family have played a major roles in the bank’s history.

“The Madson family is still the majority shareholder,” Lane said. “Most of our shareholders are third-generation shareholders now.”

The entity that owns the bank is Security Financial Inc. It has 37 shareholders. Lane is the president of Security Financial as well as the bank.

Security Savings Bank has 28 employees.

“The majority of the employees are in Gowrie and Farnhamville,” Lane said. “The other offices have two or three employees.”

The bank president had high praise for his staff team. He said they contribute mightily to the success of the endeavor.

“We have a great staff of people,” Lane said. “Our staff cares for our community and is involved in our community.”

Looking to the future, he sees good things ahead for the bank.

“We’ve been here a long time,” Lane said. “We’re going to be here a lot longer. We have no intention of merging with a bigger bank. I think we’ll continue to try to grow and expand our customer base.”