Local bank brings new leader aboardNational Bank of Commerce is undergoing a transition in leadership. Joseph M. Konradt started in his new role as the chief executive officer this week as Larry Kappes, president and chief executive officer, makes plans to retire at the end of the month.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
National Bank of Commerce is undergoing a transition in leadership.
Joseph M. Konradt started in his new role as the chief executive officer this week as Larry Kappes, president and chief executive officer, makes plans to retire at the end of the month.
Kappes, a 37-year employee of the bank who took the helm of the city’s largest locally owned bank in 2002, plans to step down Dec. 31.
Konradt started as the bank’s next chief executive officer Monday. The new chief comes to Twin Ports from Liberty Bank in West Des Moines, Iowa, where he served as executive vice president, community banking with responsibility for 34 retail branches.
“I heard about the opportunity through a recruiter; I really wasn’t looking at the time,” Konradt said. “… As I learned more about the bank, it became very interesting.”
Two things appealed to Konradt, who spent his entire career in banking. He said after 22 years in La Crosse, Wis., the size of the area and its proximity to the Twin Cities, appealed to him.
“The Duluth-Superior area is twice as big with twice as many things going on and the other part of it is we’ve got one of our kids down in the Twin Cities so it’s a lot closer here than where we were down in Iowa,” Konradt said. “That was important to us.”
The size of National Bank of Commerce also appealed to him.
National Bank of Commerce has total assets of almost $572.9 million and has offices in Hermantown, Duluth, Poplar, Solon Springs and Superior.
“It’s big enough to provide a variety of services and small enough that you know the folks you work with and know the customers,” Konradt said. “There are not a lot of banks our size. They’re either really small or really big. We fit right in the middle point.”
Prior to his role as executive vice president, community banking, in Iowa, Konradt was president of retail banking for Guaranty Bank in Milwaukee, with responsibility for more than 60 branches in Wisconsin and Illinois. Prior to that he spent 22 years with First Federal Capital Bank (now Associated Bank) in La Crosse, Wis., which culminated with the position of executive vice president, community banking group.
“I think the challenging thing is knowing what not to change,” Konradt said. “When the organization has been very successful, the important part is to make sure we recognize a legacy and make sure that we continue all the things the customers value.”
He said he’s always worked in growing organizations, and it’s important to him that National Bank of Commerce continues to grow.
The banking industry has been undergoing a “firestorm” of regulatory changes over the last several months, said Vice President Bruce Thompson of National Bank of Commerce, something the bank has been addressing. In spite of the national economic crisis, he said, the local economy and local businesses have weathered the storm.
“We continue to work with them through these difficult times, but by and large, they are not high risk takers so they were not caught off guard … We look at those new challenges as an opportunity to innovate and set ourselves apart from the competition,” Thompson said.
“I’ve worked in the Midwest my entire career,” Konradt said. “People here take their responsibility seriously. They work hard. They pay their bills.”
The board and the staff, he said, have already made an impression on the new CEO.
“One of the things I was really impressed with here that is different from any place I have worked is the number of long-term members on our team,” Konradt said. “The bank has an award that you get after 30 years. After seeing the second or third one, I said ‘now what is that?’ I have never seen a bank where people love to work there and they work there their entire career. You talk about expertise, and knowledge of the business and the community, I have never seen anything comparable to this. The enthusiasm is quite genuine. That is truly exceptional.”