Family at the Root of State Nebraska Bank
January 9, 2014 – In a second-floor conference room at State Nebraska Bank and Trust, there hangs a row of pictures. Depicting a father-son-grandson trio, the images are a nod to the history of the bank and a reminder of just how important family has been in its 122-year existence.
To get an idea of the kind of background behind SNB&T, you’d have to travel back to the early 1880s, when Henry Ley, Sr. came to Wayne and started The German Store, a general store on the corner of Third and Main Streets. In 1892, he and a group of investors got together to form The State Bank of Wayne, located at 122 Main Street, where the bank operated until an early morning fire destroyed it at the beginning of 1986. (Eventually, SNB&T’s downtown location was rebuilt, and its services are comple-mented today by a drive-in location that was constructed near Wayne State College in 1974.)
Over the years, the bank has been known as The State Nebraska Bank, State National Bank and Trust Company and, as of Jan. 1, 2014, State Nebraska Bank and Trust, a name 1Achange spurred by the switch from a national charter to a state one. It’s been run by Henry’s son Rollie, his grandson Henry, his great-grand-son David (who currently serves as the bank’s Chairman of the Board) and his great-great-grandson Matt, who was appointed CEO of SNB&T in 2010.
If you’re keeping track, that’s four different names and five gen-erations of Leys.
“It’s been in the same spot, in the same corner, since 1892,” David said. “It’s went through many remodelings and many size increas-es as it’s absorbed other businesses.”
Though SNB&T (open Monday to Saturday and accessible any-time, anywhere via its online and mobile banking services) is not the longest-running bank in Wayne, it is the longest-running family-operated bank in the city; and, according to Matt, less than one percent of banks have managed to stay family-run for as long as the Leys’ business has.
The passing of the institution from generation to generation lends continuity to its running, allowing the bank to further develop its relationship with customers. Though the way a loan or checking account is handled isn’t going to vary a whole lot from one bank to another, Matt said SNB&T manages to differentiate itself from others by offering two things: good customer service and an exceptional employee base with plenty of experience.
There’s Brittney, a customer relations representative who’s been with State Nebraska Bank & Trust for a year now, and Matt himself, who supplements his leadership at SNB&T with the 15 years of banking experience he gained in Seattle and Portland.
And then there’s David, who’s worked full-time for the bank since 1970 and part-time before that – that is, if you consider sweeping off sidewalks as a 10-year-old part-time work.
“We have a ton of experience,” Matt said. “We have over 500 years of experience between the 20 of us.” After 122 years in business, David said the support of the bank’s clients – a group that includes people in the local college and agricultural communities – have allowed it to grow to a size where it can take care of the credit and deposit needs of those it serves.
“We have customers who have been with us since we started,” he added, explaining that these same clients include farm families who have been around as long as the bank.
In fact, Matt cited one gentleman who met all five generations of the Ley family, banking with all but one of them during his time as a client. “A bank is only as strong as its clients,” he said. With its name change in full effect – you’ll see it in the lettering over the bank’s main entrance and on the front of its newly-issued debit cards – Matt said SNB&T plans “to continue to serve and be a locally-owned and operated bank and to help Wayne grow and stay healthy.”
It’s a challenging task, especially in rural communities, but the bank is doing just fine and proving that it is possible to get by with a little help from friends – and, of course, family.
Article and Photo by Katie Kasl of the Wayne Herald