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STARION FINANCIAL BM: Starion has a pretty interesting history, can you talk a little bit about how it all began and then grew into what the bank is today? Larson: My father, Frank Larson, was a young lawyer from Valley City. He was introduced to banking by helping with a bank sale in the late 1960s. A friend suggested he look at the bank in Oakes, a thriving town in southeast North Dakota with eager business owners but conservative bankers that were holding the reins on progress. My father, along with my mother JoAndrea, purchased the Oakes bank in 1969 and the local bank in nearby Ellendale the next year. In 1989, we purchased First Southwest Bank in Mandan and entered Bismarck in 1993. Since then, we’ve grown to five locations strategically placed throughout Bismarck-Mandan as well as offices in Bottineau, Dunseith, Fargo and Rolla, N.D., and three locations in Madison, Wis. In 2003, we brought everyone under the name Starion Financial, which has a sense of energy and progressiveness, and symbolizes how we take our customers farther. When Frank began his banking career, the bank had $5 million in assets; today Starion has grown to more than $1.2 billion in assets – a 2,400% increase! I firmly believe there are two key factors in our success: our dedicated employees and an unwavering commitment to the community. Our employees strive to live out our values every day, in every interaction. Those values include practicing honest, ethical and moral behavior; partnering with customers to match products and services with financial needs; and constantly seeking to exceed expectations. First and foremost, Starion is a community bank. From our small town roots we’ve always believed that we are 20

BISMARCK MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2016

in business to help people and if we can help people be successful, then we will be successful. Because of that, Starion has always been generous in its support of local organizations and encouraged our employees to be actively involved in the community. We’re fortunate to have helped thousands of friends, neighbors and businesses succeed, and donated millions of dollars to local charities. It’s truly an honor to serve the Bismarck-Mandan community and help people and businesses reach financial goals. BM: How did you get into the banking world? What sparked your interest? Larson: I was practically born into banking. I was just six years old when we purchased the Oakes bank and it was always part of my world. I’m a numbers guy by nature, so in college I earned a degree in finance. After graduating, I joined the bank as comptroller. After a dozen years working in various positions, I was named president and CEO in 1997 and in 2015, Chairman of the Board. BM: The banking world is pretty competitive, especially in Bismarck, how does Starion stay ahead of the competition and differ from other local banks? Larson: You’re right: The banking world is very competitive. Our story is one of changing with the times while holding true to who we are: a community bank. When we opened the doors to Starion in BismarckMandan we had one location with about $30 million in assets; today our five Bismarck-Mandan locations serve more than 17,300 customers and hold $677 million of the bank’s $1.2 billion in assets. We like to say that we are not too big to be small and not too small to be big. We offer personalized service, make decisions locally and


Bismarck Magazine - Volume 1: Issue 4 September/October