Citizens State Bank

Holding true when it seems to be a hold-up!


To Our Valued Customers,

Earlier this fall, I was walking behind the teller line when the customer Deb was helping grabbed my attention. The customer was wearing a baseball cap low on his forehead, dark sunglasses, and a red bandana covered his entire face and neck. Only in the midst of the year 2020 would I find irony and amusement in someone dressed like that standing at the teller line in my bank lobby. I chimed in on his and Deb’s banter and thanked him for making my day! I should have gotten a picture, not to turn over to the sheriff’s department, but to capture another incident of how unconventional 2020 was.

There have been several other humorous moments during a year that wasn’t very humorous. To maintain social distancing, we had customers come in the back door at times to meet in our conference room where we have a large table we disinfected after each meeting. A few joked while walking down the back hallway that they had been through the back door of places a lot more sketchy than the bank. Fortunately, the bank is recognized as a good member of the community because we also conducted a steady stream of business with customers through the windows of their vehicles in the bank’s back parking lot. People may have otherwise started to wonder about the exact nature of our great products and service!

This past year all businesses faced challenges and had discussions we could not have envisioned before the pandemic. No one could have really planned for the situation that was thrust upon us. However, the philosophies the bank has been committed to for many years served our customers and the bank well even under these new scenarios. Decisions implemented years ago allowed the bank to adapt and be flexible while staying true to the things that are most important and valuable to our customers.

Not every bank has held to the philosophy of having a full staff of quality bankers on hand to work with customers at the local level. We do not try to run the bank with just a skeleton crew on board. This allowed us to split the staff up into subgroups and still deliver quality service. We alternated groups working at the bank to reduce the chance of an illness spreading to the entire staff. We implemented this strategy to ensure we could maintain operations. Employees did not lose any pay even though some days they were not at the bank. Never would I have imagined we’d want to have good employees intentionally staying away from the bank!

While our customers value meeting with us in person, we did have other avenues available when coming in the lobby was not possible or advisable. Long before the pandemic, we made investments in products that proved especially useful for conducting banking remotely, such as internet banking, apps for your mobile device, making a bank deposit with your phone, and cash from the ATM. Our bank management has no desire to be the absolute first to add some new product or force experimental change onto our customers. We carefully research and make investments that are of value to customers under varied circumstances.

Our customers tell us the philosophy and commitment we have developed works well for them, even in a year like 2020. At times, bank staff worked through the weekends and throughout the entire night to get Paycheck Protection Program loans approved. Our customers counted on us to go the extra mile. Other times, going the extra mile meant we met in customers’ shops, on their farms and over the hoods of vehicles to make sure people got the services they needed and still stayed safe.

For some customers, 2020 was about survival, and for others it was about thriving as a result of new opportunities. For many, it was somewhere in between. While some situations remain challenging as we head into 2021, customers can count on Citizens State Bank to be a trusted partner they can rely on. That is who we are. That is what we do.


Perry Forst
President & CEO
Citizens State Bank Norwood Young America