March Feature: Stacey Buchanan of KlienBank

The very first thing I learned about Stacey was what a warm and friendly personality she has. After walking up to the wrong person (rather embarrassing) I heard my name called cheerfully. Stacey greeted me with a big hug and smile, which in turn put a large smile on my face. After taking a moment to find a seat in the coffee shop we hopped right to chatting.

Before I met Stacey in person I had heard about how KleinBank wasn’t your “typical bank.”  The words I heard associated with the bank were “family” and “friendly.” It became evident to me that these words aren’t just thrown around for marketing purposes, but that KleinBank is in fact a different and unique place.

Curious, I asked Stacey to tell me how she got connected to the bank. “In my past history I worked at a financial loan institution,” she said waving her hand behind her, “and when that fell apart I thought to myself, ‘What do I want to do?’ I didn’t want to go back to that industry. My brother-in-law introduced me to the market president of KleinBank and I just fell in love with it.”

I was in college when the recession hit, and I remember hearing the news that jobs were hard to come by and people were losing their homes. It struck me that ten years later so many business people I talk with look back to 2007-2009 as the years when everything changed for them. It was the same for Stacey.

“I’ve been there for nine years,” she continued, “and now I’m the branch manager. I have a phenomenal staff. You know what they say, you’re only as good as your team. All of us on staff are women and we really get along with each other,” she said with a smile. “We have fun and get the job done. I can truly say I love going to work every day.”

Stacey started to tell me more about KleinBank itself. As it turned out, KleinBank has a really unique history that quickly captivated my attention. I learned that the bank has existed for over 100 years with 21 locations throughout the northern metro area. KleinBank prides itself on having multiple generations of families going back even 100 years! Stacey told me about how the bank celebrated with those families, and I couldn’t get over the idea of so many generations going back to the same place. It is a huge testament to how the bank does business.

I asked Stacey if banking was something she was always interested in. “No, not at all,” she said with a laugh. “I really wanted to be an attorney, but after I decided it wasn’t for me I went into business. I got a bachelor of science in marketing with an emphasis in communications. I really like that piece. In my previous job I did the loan side of things, which I liked, and I did have some relationships with clients, but in sales, I’m much more in the front.”

I then wondered if I was correct in saying that KleinBank ran things a lot different than the large financial institution she worked at before. She nodded. “KleinBank is different because they let us run our own ship. They really give us latitude. We can support different non-profits and join different groups. They train us to look at more than just numbers. I do a lot of small business lending. On the consumer side, we’re risk-based pricing. When we have a one to one relationship versus just sending in paperwork. That’s really nice. We do the underwriting, all of it is done at KleinBank.”

Stacey also went on to say that because of her background as a “pencil to paper” she has the ability to check numbers against the computer. When she has that one to one relationship, she can see firsthand what issues are and figure them out instead of flat our rejecting people. “It comes natural,” Stacey said. “KleinBank puts people first. They put employees first. We have past employees who still bank with us at Coon Rapids. We always talk about ‘Career Pathing’ and how we can retrain our employees. Many see the bank as a stepping stone, but we promote within. The owners know you by name. It’s that good culture.”

“At my old job,” Stacey continued, “I worked with a bunch of guys. It was kind of like a frat house. I don’t know how else to describe it,” she said causing us both to laugh. “But we were all over the country and I was the mom that kept things in check. It was definitely do or die. Lots of hardcore selling.”

KleinBank’s approach is more of a soft approach. As she had mentioned before with multi-generational customers, they put a big emphasis on retention. “It’s transactional vs. relationship,” she said. “If you think about, isn’t it easier to build a relationship with someone than continually try and get new people?”

Our conversation began to drift a bit when Stacey casually mentioned her family, and I asked her to tell me more about them. “My mom is really important to me,” Stacey said with a somewhat faraway look in her eye. “She raised me so well and formed me into the person I am today. She was an older mom and is 92 now,” Stacey said pulling her phone out to show me. “She always encouraged me through the difficult times and knows the right words to say. She knows both my kids and is really involved with them. She’s bonded with us.”

Stacey went on to describe her two boys, Trevor and Jake, one in eighth grade, the other in eleventh. “They love their grandma and take good care of her,” she said proudly. “My oldest is driving now, and he always helped her get out of the car. So when I helped her he jumped out of the car and said, ‘No mom! You’ve got to do it this way!’ it made me so proud.”

It also warmed my heart to imagine two teenage boys taking such good care of their grandma, and I asked Stacey to tell me more about them. “Trevor loves soccer and does it all year round. His team travels to Kansas City, Chicago, Colorado,” she said as my eyes got wide. “Yeah,” she nodded. “It’s pretty aggressive. My oldest wants to be an engineer and is looking at the U of M,  St. Thomas. Bucket list is Stanford, but he knows that will be more difficult.”

I always love hearing the people I talk with brag about their families. At the end of the day of the day, it’s not just about what we do vocationally. It’s about the relationships with the people closest to us. As Stacey said, it’s what forms us and makes us who we are.

When I thought about this in regard to KleinBank, everything really came together. For them, it isn’t just about numbers, it’s about good Minnesota people, and really, that makes all the difference.

If you’d like to know more about KleinBank, please contact Stacey at 763-235-6421 or s.buchanan@kleinbank.com

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