125 years and counting

Lime Springs staff Seated: Karen Stevenson, Evelyn Truka and Stacy Dohlman. Standing: Carla Ness, Jamie Niewoehner, Jamie Wemark, Jordan Guyer and Adam Munkel.

Lime Springs staff
Seated: Karen Stevenson, Evelyn Truka and Stacy Dohlman. Standing: Carla Ness, Jamie Niewoehner, Jamie Wemark, Jordan Guyer and Adam Munkel.

By Marcie Klomp

Hearing that a business has been in operation for 25 years is impressive, and 50 years is amazing. Few words can describe125 years . . . with ownership in the same family! Heck, some towns haven’t been around that long!

The longevity of C US Bank, which celebrated its quasquicentennial this past weekend, can be attributed to good, sound business sense, community-minded owners, supportive staff and customers, or should the term be friends?

That’s how many feel when they walk in the doors of any one of the five locations—Cresco, Ridgeway, Lime Springs, Osage and Charles City. They are met by a friendly smile and clerks calling them by name. Oh, and there’s always a little candy treat given as a thank you!

But there is more to C US Bank than face-to-face time with customers. It also takes the ‘pencil pushers,’ officers and owners to use their knowledge and gut feelings to make good decisions. That common sense approach allowed the local bank to weather the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Farm Crisis in the 1980s and most recently, the Housing Crisis, starting in 2008.

During those hard times, the business stayed true to the community, which stayed true to it.

Jack notes, “The family philosophy has been ‘What is good for the communities we serve is good for the bank.’ We feel a deep responsibility toward supporting each community. Furthermore, banks have to grow to challenge their employees and to afford the latest technologies and thus to better serve their depositors and borrowers.”

In preparation of the official anniversary, April 1, 2013, Current Chairman and CEO of the bank, Jack Thomson, started researching the bank’s history. And what an illustrious history it is!

He put together a book for employees and former employees that takes the bank from the very beginning until present day. There are even a few family secrets thrown in for good measure! Look for it at a local library in the near future.

What he found was the locally-owned business’ history dates all the way back to 1888, when Cresco was in its infancy. Robert Thomson (Jack’s grandfather) emigrated from Scotland and after apprenticing in banking, moved to Cresco.

Crazy as it sounds, at first he started making loans out of his pocket. Later he was among a group of businessmen who organized Cresco Union Savings Bank on April 1, 1888, where he served as cashier. The building has stayed in the same location for 125 years.

In 1900, Robert was named president of the bank. Knowing the importance of community involvement, Robert ran and was elected Mayor of Cresco five times.

After his death in 1927, Robert’s son, Art, became Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. Art’s younger brother (Jack’s father), Perce, was named cashier.

After Art’s death in 1958, Perce became president. In 1962, Art’s son, Jean, was president, while Perce was Chairman of the Board. In 1968, Jack became president, while cousin Jim was vice-president and cashier. In 1983, John F. O’Byrne was elected President and Jack was named CEO and Chairman of the board. Jack continues as chairman and CEO today. John O’Byrne was president from 1983-2004 and was named Vice Chair of the Board in 2005. J. Scott Thomson was named President in 2005 and continues in that role today.

Due to good business sense, Cresco Union Savings Bank has been able to add four more locations.

In 1987, Farmers State Bank of Ridgeway was purchased and made into an office. Exchange State Bank of Lime Springs was added in 1992. The Ridgeway office was moved to a new facility on the highway that same year. Gateway Savings Bank in Osage was acquired in March 2002, and in 2005, CUSB received approval from the state banking authority and FDIC to purchase Peoples Savings Bank of Charles City.

The family business has always been available for family members to work. Jack Thomson is the third generation of Thomsons to be in the bank. His son, J. Scott Thomson, the fourth generation, serves as President. The fifth generation of Thomsons are now working in the bank. Scott and Stephanie’s children, Samantha, John and William, are working in various roles in the bank while they are in school.

Jack declares, “I count my blessings every day that I live in the Cresco community, where good people look out for each other, and to serve the communities where we are located.

“Our dedicated staff has molded us into what C US Bank is today. We currently have 93 employees and are proud of the work that they do and thank them for their loyalty to C US Bank.

“I am extremely proud of 125 years! The family has worked hard to improve the bank over the years, and now with Scott at the helm, I know it will go well into the future.”

In celebration of the 125th anniversary, C US Bank held an employee reunion with former and present staff invited to a cocktail party held at the country club on July 19. The general public, around 1,500 folks, enjoyed a supper, kids games, music and fun on Saturday, July 20.


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