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National Bank of Commerce


National Bank of Commerce (NBC) not only focuses on money in its business, but also its communities. “We truly believe that as our community grows, so do we,” President and CEO Steven Burgess declares. “We believe anything we do for the community is a big plus.”

Based in Superior, Wis., NBC serves the communities of the Twin Ports of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Originally, the bank was chartered as United National Bank of Superior in 1934, and took its current name in 1939.

Today, NBC has six locations that are all within 35 miles of each other. “[We are] best known for commercial banking, with a strong presence in commercial loans and residential real estate,” he says.

Making More Possible

A longtime veteran of banking, Burgess joined NBC four years ago. “My first banking job was in 1982,” he recalls. “I was president of a small bank in central Wisconsin in 1985.”

nationalbankcominfobox copyUnder his tenure, NBC has strived to take the role of a trusted advisor to its clients, rather than a mere provider of financial services. “We like to make the right decisions and help them with their development and what they’re trying to accomplish,” he says.

“In an interview with the customer, you start out by getting to know them and talk about their dreams and aspirations,” he says. “You then put those steps in the process in order to make those dreams and aspirations come true.

“What we like to say is we’re in the business of making more possible,” he says. “We know a lot about the families and companies that we’re working with.”

Helping Hands

Burgess credits NBC’s success to its community focus, which has included donating funds for AstroTurf for an athletic complex at Superior High School. Thanks to the Turf, “Students can be out there, earlier in the spring, playing baseball,” he says.

NBC also strives to help families that are ailing after the downturn in the mining industry. “The iron mines are at a very low point right now, due somewhat to the global economy,” he explains. “There are 2,500 folks who are without jobs.”

The bank recently brought in Toby Madden, an experienced economist and founder of Power Parametrics LLC, for its Regional Economic Indicator Forum, where he spoke on ways to help the community. “It’s about how do we provide work for these folks,” Burgess says.

NBC also is a catalyst in an initiative to attract development to the city of Superior. “That’s been a really good thing,” he says, noting that the bank has sponsored the Lake Superior Ice Project as part of this initiative.

Thanks to the media attention the project has received, “We’re starting to see that some developers are interested in this area,” he says. “We’re also doing work with our legislature to get funding avenues to allow these developments to happen.”

The Talent Magnet

NBC has nurtured a culture that is embodied by four values: respect, integrity, teamwork and accountability, forming the acronym RITA. “Those really [represent] our culture,” Burgess says. “We live those every day.”

The bank also looks for people who share those values when recruiting. “We become a talent magnet by our sheer size and what we do in the community,” he says. “Yet most of the people that come to work for us are from recommendations from our own associates.”

NBC has been fortunate to enjoy low turnover, with many workers that have been with the bank for more than 40 years. “Our culture keeps them around,” Burgess declares. “There’s a lot of community pride within our bank.”

Plans to Prosper

Burgess wants NBC to double in size in the next six years. “We’d like to be a bigger force for the community, and help it grow and prosper,” he says. “This is a vision shared by my board of directors.”

The bank also has a four-fold list of initiatives that it developed to reach that goal. The first initiative, he notes, involves attracting the best talent possible.

“No. 2 is to create an environment where operational excellence is the norm,” he continues. The third initiative is successful organic growth.

The fourth, he explains, involves an acquisition strategy targeting smaller banks that find it more challenging to stay competitive with the increased regulation cost burden.

“We want to be a safe harbor for those banks and enjoy the success of being bigger and better together,” Burgess concludes. mt

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