Rich Jones, president and CEO of Randall State Bank, knew instinctively that advocating on behalf of his industry was important. But as a first generation banker, he didn’t have a family member’s footsteps to follow or an at-hand example for what such advocacy looked like. That wasn’t a deterrent for the young banker who’d spent 10 years working at behemoth institutions before joining the $54 million central Minnesota community bank.
“I figured I was going to be at it for 20 years or so, so I felt it was important to make sure community banks had a voice at the national level,” Jones said. He made his first trip to Washington, D.C., in 2014, with the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota (before the bank was an ICBM member), and met community bankers from around the state, many with decades of advocacy experience, who were “overwhelmingly kind and willing to take me under their wing,” he said.
From that first experience, the 44-year-old Jones said his involvement has blossomed. Jones was recently elected to serve a three-year term as a federal delegate with the Independent Community Bankers of America, meaning he’ll serve as liaison between the national association and the ICBM board.
A goal for Jones today is to inspire bankers in his age group to also see the benefit of advocating for their industry, even if their institutions aren’t heavily engaged in advocacy. “I don’t want to step on toes; but I want to grow awareness.”
Since his first ICBM trip to the nation’s capital, Jones has grown bullish on the value ICBM brings to Randall State Bank, which operates two locations. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the education [it offers]. Jones is a member of the ICBM CEO Network, which meets monthly. His compliance team, through the Compliance Network, regularly taps into a network of 40 compliance professionals when facing challenges. “It’s amazing to see how much community bankers work together for the common good,” Jones said.
The support he and his team receive through ICBM reflects the support he and his team give their communities. The ability to make an impact on customers and community was what compelled Jones to join Randall State Bank in the first place. The Nisswa native said he recalled how his community banker knew everyone’s name in town; that banker’s actions made an impact on Jones even in childhood. “You want every single customer to be successful in whatever venture they have, whether it’s a farm, a business, or a home loan,” he said.
For the Randall State Bank, which is just northwest of Little Falls and Camp Ripley, one benchmark for success is to become the bank of choice for the veterans, active duty service members, and civilians who work at the camp. Jones served for eight years with the Minnesota National Guard and his Chief Operating Officer, Mike Worden was with the Guard for 27-years, including as senior enlisted advisor.
Advocacy, Jones said, has become somewhat of a passion. “The challenge is to get others involved in ICBM and ICBA, to carry the torch,” he said.