Craig Brewster, president and CEO of Butte State Bank, became chairman-elect of the Nebraska Bankers Association on Friday, paving the way for him to become chairman next year. The group’s annual convention was held in La Vista last week.
Doing well by doing good. It’s what Nebraska banks and bankers do every day. Our banks prosper when our customers and communities prosper. Traditional banking is all about supporting our communities and our state — and making a difference in the lives of our customers.
I didn’t have to think twice about a career in banking. The industry has been very good to my family for almost 80 years. I am a third-generation banker from Butte — a small community, population 326, located in Boyd County in the north-central part of the state. We’re just five miles from the South Dakota border between the Missouri, Niobrara and Keya Paha Rivers.
My family’s history in banking started with my grandfather, Joe Brewster, whose career took him from Omaha to Rushville, then Stuart and Butte. My dad, Dennis, has spent the past 50 years with the Butte State Bank. I chose to be a banker and to follow my grandfather’s and father’s examples.
My dad’s life has been all about service and participation, a life of commitment and a life of honor and respect. He showed me what a banker can do for a community. His long-term perspective served the bank well. He refused to be driven by quarter-to-quarter results. He always did what was best for the long run. Like so many community bankers, he was all about balancing the interest of the shareholders, customers and the employees.
I remember the kind of pride my grandfather had when he was a banker, and I know the pride that my father has had as a banker. I, too, am proud to be a part of the banking industry in Nebraska for the past 30 years.
I am proud of the thousands of men and women in our state who work in our banks. I am proud of what we do for our customers, and what we give back to the communities we serve.
I hope the more than 14,000 bank employees in our state feel that pride, too. Whether they are cashing checks in the teller line, opening an account or extending a loan, they are helping to provide a fundamental economic service to the community — and the community needs them if it’s going to grow and prosper. A thriving town is a town with a bank full of employees who understand that what they do is important.
Bankers care. This isn’t just a job for most of us. It’s a calling. It’s a commitment. It’s our passion. We are bankers because we want to make life better in our communities. And in so many ways, for so many of us, it’s about putting service above self. That’s what’s so great about pursuing a career that makes the world a better place.
Community bankers make a difference in creating and retaining jobs, building homes, financing our farmers and ranchers and strengthening our communities. Whether it’s working with the local Habitat for Humanity to build homes, hosting the town picnic, donating a scoreboard to the high school, sponsoring school programs or lending to our agricultural producers and Main Street businesses, community bankers are building their communities. And we’re making America stronger.
Those who criticize banking overlook the immense good that bankers do for our financial system, for our communities and for our country. We are a diverse industry. But there is one common denominator: Our business helps our customers and communities grow. And that’s how banks help our country grow.
The strength of our nation is due in part to our diverse banking system. Our dynamic financial structure has created opportunities for institutions large and small. It welcomes multiple charters. It provides for a great variety of ways for us to serve the needs of our communities.
Banks of every charter, every size, every business plan and from every part of this state come together through the Nebraska Bankers Association.
We all care about the same thing: serving our customers. Our desire to make loans, develop our communities, grow agriculture, and expand business is far stronger than anything that draws a distinction between us.
I’m an optimist. And I’m a believer. I’m optimistic because our customers and our communities need us. And I believe that when you get a group of bankers together under the NBA banner, we will produce solid solutions for our state.
Banking is the engine of economic growth. A strong banking system leads to a strong economy, and that will strengthen this great country for all the challenges to come.