The Start of Making Great Things Happen!™
Before Heartland Financial, there was Dubuque Bank and Trust, a community bank born of the Great Depression. It served the area independently until 1981, when the economic environment demanded change. The banking industry was struggling with the uncertainties of deregulation, and interest rates hit an all-time high, bringing the economy to its knees. Our hometown of Dubuque, Iowa, received national attention as the city with the highest unemployment rate in the nation, reaching well into double digits as the community’s two largest employers experienced layoffs and real estate values crashed through the floor.
In 1981, DB&T was very closely held, and the question pondered by a number of its directors was “How can we retain the benefits of locally managed community banking while preserving and increasing the value of our shares for future generations?” As history has proven time and again, out of the darkest times come great new visions, and this was certainly the case with Heartland.
The concept of community banking was near and dear to the hearts of our visionary directors at that time. They were convinced that a community bank model based on local ownership and local decision-making would have value well into the future. Directors William C. Brown, Lynn S. Fuller, Evangeline K. Jansen, James A. Schmid and F.W. Woodward all had banking relationships with large regional banks, as well as with their own community bank, Dubuque Bank and Trust, and had experienced the ease of doing business with a community bank.
To position the company for future expansion, the directors decided that a holding company should be formed, mapping a new course for the company. The creation of Heartland Bankcorp, subsequently renamed Heartland Financial USA, Inc., resulted in a one-bank holding company. Its sole asset was Dubuque Bank and Trust, with $200 million in assets and five offices in Dubuque County. The company was now poised for growth and geographic diversification of risk.
In the following 10 years, Heartland acquired its first out-of-state bank in Illinois, Galena State Bank and Trust. With the 1994 acquisition of First Community Bank, F.S.B, Keokuk, Iowa, Heartland shares were registered with the SEC, and for the first time Heartland stock was publicly traded. During the mid-1990s, Heartland continued its Midwest expansion with the formation of Riverside Community Bank in Rockford, Illinois. Additionally, we acquired what is now Wisconsin Bank & Trust in Madison and Monroe, with subsequent expansion into Green Bay and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Growing a Legacy
Following early acquisitions in the Midwest, Heartland gained the experience and acquired the technology needed to reach more distant markets. Beginning in the late 1990s the company ventured west, actively expanding with both acquisition and de novo activity in New Mexico, Arizona, Montana and Colorado, as well as Minnesota, Kansas and Missouri, all supported by the company’s centralized, state-of-the-art backroom operations in Dubuque.
In recent years Heartland has increased the percent of total assets held in our Western banks, moving closer to our goal of an equal distribution of assets between our Midwestern and Western banks.
In 2003, the listing of Heartland stock on the NASDAQ National Market System brought closure to the question originally pondered by the company’s organizers. Heartland was now traded nationally on a major stock exchange and could provide its shareholders increased liquidity and attractive returns.
Our commitment to an enhanced customer experience was demonstrated in 2010 when we announced a significant addition to our residential mortgage lending capabilities. Our team of mortgage banking professionals and executives is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. Mortgage services are offered within our bank footprint as well as in Nevada and Idaho.
Looking ahead, we see an attractive position for Heartland by virtue of our size, as we strategically operate between the mega banks and small community banks. Banking today is a business of scale. As an organization with a multi-billion of assets, we have the resources to afford highly qualified talent, state-of-the-art technology, continued investment in training, product development and compliance. We are able to offer products and services that are competitive with the largest banks and still deliver the high-touch personalized banking experience our clients appreciate.
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