Jerry Knispel began his career at First National Bank of Fairbury (now Heartland Bank) one day after graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. And as he puts it, “I’ve been here ever since.”
After 49 years with First National Bank of Fairbury and Heartland Bank, Jerry stepped down as the branch president and announced his retirement. Jerry has been a fixture in the bank and the Fairbury community. He grew up six miles away in Jansen, attended Fairbury High School and returned after graduating college to raise his family.
Jerry’s roles within the bank have been vast and include, bookkeeper, customer service associate, cashier, real estate loan officer, commercial and ag loan officer, president, and most recently branch president. Although he can’t choose a favorite, he comments, “I enjoyed them all. I got to work with people of all positions, and I enjoyed that the most.”
When asked about the most significant challenge Jerry faced in his career, he quickly responded, “Without a doubt the farm crisis of the mid-’80s. Real estate values had dropped 50-60%, low commodity prices, and interest rates were pushing 20%. No one can make money at that. It was a hard time for our bank, and it was a hard time for our customers.” The biggest lesson he took away from the crisis was, “when people are in a distressed situation, you get a lot further by working with them instead of trying to make the decisions for them.”
The amount of change Jerry witnessed is extensive, but the technology advancements are what resonate the most. Jerry also notes the amount of foot traffic in the bank is 25-30% of what it used to be because of the convenience mobile banking, direct deposit, and ATM’s now provide.
Big plans await Jerry and his wife, Marci. With their extra time, they plan to golf a little more, travel and spend time with their seven grandchildren.
We are incredibly grateful for the lasting impression Jerry has had on the associates of the bank, customers, and the community. We thank him for his 49 years of service and commitment and wish him luck in the future!
Jenni is a Consultant for Thomsen Reuters. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Kearney in Public Relations. Jenni enjoys spending time at Johnson Lake with her husband and three children, watching her children's activities and remodeling projects.
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