Thank you for visiting Harvest Bank online! You may have already noticed — we're not quite your average bank. As a community bank rooted in Central/West-Central Minnesota, we have a special understanding of the needs of our customers. Whether you're an individual, business owner, or farmer, we take care to learn about you and have the innovative products and services necessary to let you bank the way it's most convenient for you.
We may be a local bank, but that doesn't mean you won't find the same — if not better — products and services you'd find at the big banks. From free checking accounts that actually pay you to online services and mobile banking with mobile deposit, our products always put you first.
History of Harvest Bank
“This is a very short history because Harvest Bank wasn’t born until Feb. 18, 2013, the child of two banks owned by Cattail Bancshares, Inc. We have kept the histories of those banks on this site as they really represent two different stories. Eventually they themselves will be history and we will enhance this page.”
That was written five years ago. In the course of those years there has been both more and less coordination than one might have imagined. Some decisions, especially for large dollar loans, tend to be reviewed in Kimball after local input, while others, investing for one, originate in Atwater. Still others might come from any one of our four locations, depending on the individual who “owns” the idea.
We did consolidate our core computing system, but both banks had been using the same provider so that didn’t represent too much of a change, though there were some internal account and accounting changes. Staff members for the most part continued to do after the merger what they had been doing before. Depending on staff turnover (which has been minimal) some duties might have migrated from one office to another. A good example is audit, which is now being led by a staffer at Kimball and which has grown in importance over the years.
What is more interesting for most readers is probably more a consequence of changes in the banking landscape itself than internal adjustments. We could call this “the dog that didn’t bark” as it is kept out of earshot: the cyberspace revolution. Over the past five years we have introduced a number of once unimaginable new products and services: remote deposit capture, mobile banking, bill pay, ID theft protection, a social media presence, and a suite of business account management options. The cyberspace technological advance is, however, like so much else that has come before, a two-edged sword. Our business has become more efficient, managing more information with fewer resources. And while more staff can work, in part, off premises so can more criminals work at a distance. We can honestly say that we work tirelessly to keep the hackers out, but a very few customers have fallen victim to old fashioned scams over the phone or by email by giving out their personal information. In some cases we have been able to retrieve or interdict the attempted transfer of funds to scammers, but not always. Alas, there is no let up to the need for vigilance.
What used to be considered a stable and boring industry – some may remember the old 3-6-3 rule: pay 3 percent on deposits, lend it out at 6 percent, be on the golf course by 3 pm – is no longer the case. Regulation, cyberspace and customer expectations have changed the game and will continue to do so. In five more years the landscape will probably look different once again: there is nothing as certain as change, so said Heraclitus the Greek, 2,500 years ago!
Atwater State Bank
The Atwater State Bank was founded in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression. The town had been without a bank for a number of years as one of the banks in the town failed during the Ag crisis of the 1920s, and another as a result of embezzlement. The founders included the local lumber dealer, L.P. Larson, and the local doctor, Dr. Jensen. They hired a very conservative banker from Iowa, A.O. Stromseth, to serve as president. It was said that Mr. Stromseth was so conservative he wore both a belt and suspenders. He was never seen not wearing a white shirt, even while mowing his lawn. Stromseth became majority owner of the bank stock.
Also hired at the time was a young man from Atwater named T.C. Danielson. Tom was born and raised in the community and was very well liked. He liked to tell the story of how he was held up in the 1930s. It was over the lunch hour, and as there were only two employees at the time, he was left alone while Mr. Stromseth went to lunch. A man came in the bank with a bag of change. While Tom was counting it, he pulled out a gun, the barrel of which appeared to Tom to be about the size of a canon. The robber had Tom clean out the teller drawer and then locked him in the vault, threatening to return and kill him if he pulled the alarm. When Mr. Stromseth came back and opened the vault, Tom didn’t know if it was the robber or someone else. Some years later Tom was called to the Twin Cities to identify the bank robber who had finally been caught. Before he could say anything, the robber identified him: “You’re from Atwater, aren’t you.” Tom also told the story of how the outhouse was dug behind the original bank building. The carpenter told him, "Tom, when this is full you will be president." And so it happened that in 1962, when Mr. Stromseth decided to sell the bank, he sold to Tom and Ruth (Rosenquist) Danielson, despite receiving a higher bid from outside the community.
Tom served as president for about 15 years, and when he retired, Ruth took over. She was the first female life insurance salesperson in the state, and one of the first women to serve as a bank president. When Ruth suffered a bout of cancer in 1984, her daughter Suzanne took her place. By this time, Sue's husband Bob Meyerson, a native of New York who had come to Minnesota to earn a Ph.D. in history, was also working in the bank. In 1985, the Meyersons purchased the State Bank of Kimball. Bob assumed duties in both banks and continues to do so. But the 1980s were tough times for agriculture and bank earnings were very thin for a few years. Eventually, matters improved. In 1998, Sue stepped down to assist her ailing parents and Bob assumed the presidency. In May, 2007 on the Bank's 75th anniversary, the bank opened its first branch seven miles to the west in the city of Kandiyohi.
Since the time of the bank's founding until the present, the town of Atwater has seen many changes. What was once a thriving town with several grain elevators, hotels, retail stores and its own newspaper has become more of a bedroom community for the larger towns of Willmar and Litchfield -- the automobile helped make people more mobile and consolidation trends in agriculture have reduced the population of the countryside. While in recent years the town’s population has stabilized and even grown a little, the town is unlikely to attain the stature it once held. The businesses and churches that remain have been pretty stable.
The town of Kandiyohi may have been “hit” harder than Atwater as consolidation of retail and other services in Willmar, the county seat only five miles away, continues to progress. Retail in Kandiyohi is limited to a very fine butcher shop, Wick’s and a strong Fatty’s convenience & liquor store. But the Catholic Church closed its doors in 2016 and the city decided to turn over the municipal utilities operation to Kandiyohi Power Cooperative. Still, the town does have room to grow.
While the history of the Atwater State Bank formally came to an end in 2013 when it consolidated with its sister bank, State Bank of Kimball, as Harvest Bank, the two formerly separate entities continue to serve different markets and decisions are, to some extent, localized or shared with the initiative coming from either direction. The bank charter remains in Kimball, but the holding company, which own the bank, is located in Atwater. For better or worse (actually for better), we aren’t going anywhere (though we do benefit as the holding company grows through expansion) and a very strong local touch characterizes the Atwater and Kandiyohi bank offices.
State Bank of Kimball
State Bank of Kimball was founded in 1901, the first bank in the Kimball community. State Bank of Kimball is a "state" bank, meaning that its charter is granted by the State of Minnesota.
The original shareholders of the bank were most likely from outside the community. Almost all had "Yankee" surnames, suggesting that the German and Scandinavian settlers had not yet made their full presence in the community known. The first president of the bank was George Sherwood, a respected medical doctor who lived in Kimball well into the 1950′s.
The great depression of the 1930′s had a significant impact on the State Bank of Kimball. With unemployment at staggering heights and widespread crop failures, coupled with occasional depositor panic, many banks failed. In 1933, conditions became so bad that President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a bank "holiday", shutting down banks for a week to calm tensions. This shutdown, along with the establishment of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which guaranteed deposits up to $5,000, helped restore confidence in the nation's banking system.
In April 1933, the State Bank of Kimball acquired the assets of the failing People's Bank of South Haven. However, by August of that year, the State Bank of Kimball was also in need of assistance. This aid was provided by a loan from the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which purchased preferred stock in the State Bank of Kimball that was finally paid off in 1940.
The acquisition of the South Haven bank also brought with it cashier E.A. Erickson, later to become president and owner of the State Bank of Kimball. His son, Elwood E. Erickson, succeeded him as president. The Ericksons sold the State Bank of Kimball in 1985 to the current owners, the Meyersons of Atwater, who also own a bank in that town.
Following the sale, the State Bank of Kimball saw difficult times during the agricultural crisis of the 1980s. The bank quickly recovered and in 1990 built a branch in St. Augusta, that won an award for its design. By 2007, the bank had grown over 6 times its size since 1990. In 2004, the St. Augusta office was remodeled to accommodate growth in the area.