Making Life Great

2016 Annual Report

Year in Review

Letter from the President

Ken Karels

Ken Karels

President & Chief Executive Officer

Focusing on What Matters

As a locally-focused community bank, our company has always been about building meaningful relationships with the individuals and businesses we serve. Simply put, our mission is to Make Life Great. We do that by living our values of putting the customer first and doing the right thing. Making Life Great is part of our culture and our employees live up to those values every day. In FY16, Making Life Great was defined in a number of new and exciting ways.

Our financial performance for the most recent fiscal year was once again strong. Net income grew by 20.1% year-over-year and fully-diluted EPS increased by 21.6%. Each of these measures are calculated excluding the impact of non-recurring costs we incurred related to the acquisition of HF Financial Corp. Our return on average tangible common equity was an impressive 15.1%, driven largely by our outstanding efficiency ratio of 49.6%. Finally, we increased our quarterly dividend to $0.17 per share, an increase of 21%.

Driving performance and results has always been a part of Making Life Great, but in FY16 our company delivered under pressure. Four months after National Australia Bank, Ltd. completed its divestiture of GWB, we returned to the acquisition arena and announced our agreement to acquire HF Financial Corp., a strong South Dakota-based organization with $1.2 billion in total assets. The acquisition, valued at $142 million, signaled a clear indication to the market that we were returning to our acquisitive roots. The transaction added a presence in two key markets, Fargo, ND and Minneapolis, MN, and boosted our company over $10 billion in consolidated total assets, a key regulatory threshold, which will subject us to greater regulatory scrutiny and governance requirements. We have been working on a number of projects to prepare to meet these requirements for some time now and I am confident we will be up to the challenge.

Understanding that we can’t be successful with growth through acquisitions alone, we grew organically by focusing on existing and new markets, including establishing a branch presence in Waterloo, IA and Scottsdale, AZ. Making Life Great in FY16 also meant we grew our products and service lines by offering our customers improvements to our digital banking platform, our business cash management offering and by improving the way we communicate in our increasingly technological world.

We have been managing credit risk resulting from lower commodity prices for some time now. There is no doubt our customers in the agriculture industry are under pressure and will likely continue to be for the next couple of years. But I believe we will manage through this downturn in part because of our diversified loan portfolio and because of our experience in the agriculture arena. We stand ready to manage the future of banking with the challenges in net interest margin, cost and regulatory compliance as we have navigated these successfully in the past.

We want to be a part of the solution to challenges facing our communities. In FY16, Making Life Great meant creating a new program at Great Western Bank to help our neighbors. Our Making Life Great Grants initiative grew out of a desire to help solve many of the complex issues facing our communities. We’re excited to see how we can grow our commitment to corporate responsibility in the areas aligned with our strategic priorities of affordable housing, financial literacy, economic development and more.

We know that in order to be successful as a company our people must first be successful. We are fortunate to have capable, engaged, dedicated and empowered employees and I would like to thank them for their contributions to our success.

We welcomed a couple of new directors to our board over the past year. Jim Brannen joined our board in October 2015. Jim brings a wealth of banking experience as well as valuable expertise in public company governance as CEO of Iowa-based FBL Financial. In October 2016, we welcomed Jim Israel to our board. We value his financial and risk management expertise as past president of Deere & Company Worldwide Financial Services Division. We also want to recognize outgoing board chairman Andrew “Skip” Hove who will be leaving us in February. Skip has provided many years of dedicated service. I want to thank our entire board for their guidance over these past 12 eventful months of Making Life Great.

Ken Karels

Ken Karels
President & Chief Executive Officer

“Great Western Bank from the very first conversation said ‘we can help’ and that was good news.”

Bob Walker - President, Walker Manufacturing

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Financials

Financial Highlights

“We were able to deliver significant year-over-year growth while maintaining a peer-leading efficiency ratio, all against the backdrop of successfully completing our first acquisition since becoming a public company.” – Ken Karels, President & CEO

Net Income

$121.3 Million

or $2.14 per share

Tier 1 Capital Ratio

11.1%

Total Deposits grew

16.5%

to $8.60 Billion

Total Capital Ratio

12.2%

Efficiency Ratio

49.6%

Total Loans grew

18.5%

to $8.68 Billion

For more financial information, download our PDF.

Community

Giving Back to Our Communities

Great Western Bank remains committed to giving back to the diverse communities in which we work and live. In FY16, Great Western Bank contributed $2.05 million in sponsorships and donations to the many communities we serve.

$2.05 Million

In Sponsorships and Donations

Non-profits Served

1,000+


Making Life Great Grants

Working Together

In FY16, Great Western Bank introduced a new initiative aimed at bolstering our commitment to corporate responsibility. The quarterly Making Life Great grants are meant to help shape vibrant communities. We want to be part of the solutions to the many unique challenges facing our communities.

“The complexity is huge. Our banking used to be very complex. Now it’s simple. Having a regional partner like Great Western Bank has made our banking business so much easier. It’s the truth.”

J. Alex Rodawig - Managing Partner, Aalfs Manufacturing

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Locations

A Regional Leader with 174 Locations

Great Western Bank was founded more than 80 years ago as a hometown, community bank. Now a regional leader with 174 locations and more than 20,000 surcharge-free ATMs, we’ve grown, but retain our position as a hometown bank in the communities we serve. For more information on our company visit www.GreatWesternBank.com.

Map of Great Western Bank Locations

At a Glance

  • 174 locations in nine states as of October 28, 2016
  • More than 20,000 surcharge-free ATMs
  • Approximately 1,650 employees
  • $11.5 billion in assets and equity of nearly $1.7 billion**
  • 7th largest U.S. farm lender*
  • 87% of loans in business and ag segments**

*AS OF JUNE 30, 2016 SOURCE: FDIC
**AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Leadership

Our Leadership

Our leadership team has more than 225 years of combined experience in the financial services industry and nearly half of that is at Great Western Bank.

Kenneth J. Karels

President and Chief Executive Officer

Ken Karels has served as Great Western Bancorporation, Inc.’s President and Chief Executive Officer and on its board of directors since 2010, as well as the President and Chief Executive Officer and on the Board of Directors of Great Western Bancorp, Inc. since its formation in July 2014.

Ken is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Western Bank and serves on the boards of directors of Great Western Bank and our other subsidiaries. He provides overall leadership and is responsible for executive oversight of our bank.

Ken has 40 years of banking experience and expertise in all areas of bank management and strategic bank acquisitions. He has served in several different capacities at Great Western Bank since 2002, including Regional President and Chief Operating Officer for the bank’s branch distribution channel including agriculture, business and retail lending and deposit functions.


During his executive tenure, Ken has helped grow Great Western Bank from $5.2 billion in assets at September 30, 2009 to over $10 billion in assets today. Before joining Great Western Bank, Ken served as President and Chief Executive Officer at Marquette Bank, Milbank, SD, where he was employed for 25 years.

Ken's qualifications to serve on our board include his operating, management, and leadership experience in the banking industry and as Great Western's President and Chief Executive Officer. He has extensive knowledge of, and has made significant contributions to, the growth of Great Western and our bank.

Peter Chapman

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Peter Chapman has served as Great Western Bancorporation, Inc.’s, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President since 2013 and on its board of directors from January 2013 until October 2014, as well as the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Great Western Bancorp, Inc. since its formation in July 2014.

Pete is also the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Great Western Bank. He has over 20 years of industry experience and is responsible for all aspects of our financial and regulatory reporting together with planning and strategy and treasury management of our balance sheet.

From 2010 until he was appointed as our Chief Financial Officer in November 2012, Pete served as the General Manager, Finance Performance Management & Non Traded Businesses for National Australia Bank Limited's (NAB) Wholesale Banking business. From 2007 to 2010, he served as Head of Financial Control at NAB and was responsible for oversight and delivery of NAB’s external financial reporting and internal management reporting. From 2004 to 2007, he was Manager, and then Senior Manager, in NAB’s Group Accounting Policy team. From 1995 to 2004, he held various roles with Ernst & Young’s Financial Services Audit Division, including Group Manager of its Melbourne, Australia office’s Financial Services Audit practice, and he was seconded to Ernst & Young’s New York office from 1998 to 2000.

Pete has been a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia since 1998 and is currently a Fellow of the Institute.

Stephen Ulenberg

Chief Risk Officer and Executive Vice President

Stephen Ulenberg has served as Great Western Bancorporation, Inc.’s Chief Risk Officer and Executive Vice President from 2010 through 2014, as well as the Chief Risk Officer and Executive Vice President of Great Western Bancorp, Inc. since its formation in July 2014. Mr. Ulenberg is also the Chief Risk Officer and Executive Vice President of Great Western Bank. He is responsible for ensuring that risk is effectively managed and overseen across our enterprise.

Steve has 32 years of experience in the financial services industry, including a 24-year career with National Australia Bank Limited (NAB) and its subsidiaries, where he worked in a number of senior positions including frontline business leadership in commercial and wholesale banking, risk management and major, cross-organizational strategic initiatives—at both Bank of New Zealand (a NAB subsidiary) and NAB. Immediately prior to joining Great Western Bank, he was responsible for the leadership of Bank of New Zealand’s enterprise risk management capability across a $60 billion lending portfolio. In that role, he provided related analytics, risk reporting, portfolio metrics, risk insights, asset quality information and oversight of decision analysis, managed provisioning, risk appetite and advanced Basel models and led ongoing enhancements to Bank of New Zealand’s risk management capabilities.

Doug Bass

Regional President

Doug Bass has served as a Regional President of Great Western Bank since 2010 and is an Executive Vice President of Great Western Bank. He oversees all of our banking operations within the states of Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, as well as our wealth management and mortgage banking business lines. In total, Doug has over 33 years of banking experience.

Doug has worked in various capacities with Great Western Bank since 2009 and has expertise in all areas of bank management within Great Western Bank. Before joining Great Western Bank, he served as President of First American Bank Group. Previously he served over 15 years in various capacities with Firstar Corporation, which is now known as US Bank, including as President and Chief Executive Officer of Firstar’s Sioux City and Council Bluffs operations in Western Iowa and as Manager of Correspondent Banking for its Eastern Iowa operations, which also included responsibility for commercial banking and agribusiness lending.

Bryan Kindopp

Regional President

Bryan Kindopp has served as a Regional President of Great Western Bank since 2011 and is an Executive Vice President of Great Western Bank. He oversees all of our banking operations within the states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and North Dakota. In these states, he is responsible for branch operations of 95 of our locations and approximately 700 of our employees.

Bryan has 25 years of banking experience. He has expertise in all areas of bank management and strategic bank acquisitions and has served in several different capacities at Great Western Bank since 2001. His roles have included Market President and Group President for the bank’s branch distribution channel for the Northeastern region of South Dakota. In these roles, Bryan had responsibility for agriculture and commercial business, retail lending, and deposit functions.

Before joining Great Western Bank, Bryan served as Vice President and Market Manager for three years at Marquette Bank, Kimball, SD, where he was employed for a total of ten years.

Cheryl Olson

Head of Learning & Development and Marketing

Since 2012, Cheryl Olson has been Head of Learning & Development and Marketing at Great Western Bank. Ms. Olson is responsible for providing leadership to the Learning & Development and Marketing teams which provide direct support to our frontline sales team as they bring the Great Western Bank brand to life. Together these two teams are instrumental in the introduction and implementation of major company initiatives and marketing strategies designed to provide our sales team with the tools, resources, and skills which enable them to achieve their goals and meet the needs of a growing organization.

Ms. Olson joined Great Western Bank in early 2007 as SVP Learning & Development. Ms. Olson has 39 years of banking experience, including nearly 20 years in Senior Branch Management and Regional Audit positions.

Prior to joining Great Western Bank in 2007, Ms. Olson served as Vice President and Regional Training Manager for Bank of the West, Walnut Creek, CA, and as Vice President Learning & Development Officer for Community First Bankshares, Inc. in Fargo, North Dakota.

Andy Pederson

Head of People and Culture

Andy Pederson is the Head of People and Culture for Great Western Bank and also serves on the Executive Committee since 2012. He is responsible for all of the People and Culture functions of the bank including performance management, compensation, benefits, recruitment, talent management, staffing and employee relations. Mr. Pederson has 21+ years of human resource experience in which 16 of those have been in banking.

Prior to assuming the Head of People and Culture role, Mr. Pederson held positions of the People and Culture Manager and People and Culture Consultant since he joined the bank in 2009. During his tenure, Great Western Bank has implemented an HRIS system, a performance management framework and developed a formal salary structure and job hierarchy system. Mr. Pederson has been involved in five acquisitions.

Before joining Great Western Bank, Andy was a Senior Human Resources Generalist for Citibank in Sioux Falls, SD for 4 years. Prior to Citibank, Andy served as a Senior Human Resource Consultant for Wells Fargo Bank supporting both Banking and Wealth Management and managed a recruitment team for 5 years. Andy also spent 5 years as the Human Resource Manager for a manufacturing company with locations in South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska. Mr. Pederson holds a psychology degree from South Dakota State University. He also has a Master of Science and Arts degree in Human Resources from the University of South Dakota.

Scott Erkonen

Chief Information Officer

Scott Erkonen has served as Chief Information Officer of Great Western Bank since 2016 and is a member of the Leadership Committee. He oversees all information technology operations within GWB’s nine-state footprint. Scott has worked in the technology and financial services field for more than 20 years.

Prior to joining Great Western Bank, he served eight years as the Head of IT for Home Federal Bank. He has held senior leadership positions with several financial institutions, including First Premier Bank/Premier Bankcard. He has also served as a consultant to several large international financial institutions where he assisted with the implementation of their IT Security and Governance programs.

“Great Western Bank just got it. They understood where we were coming from and the day-to-day business. The only partner we have now is Great Western Bank.”

Mark Hill - Owner, Lazy 3X Ranch

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Board

Our Board of Directors

The Board of Directors at Great Western Bancorp, Inc. have overall responsibility for building long-term financial performance and value in the company.

Andrew C. Hove, Jr.

Chairman

Andrew Hove has been a director since July 2014 and Chairman since August 2015. He has also served on the board of directors of Great Western Bank since 2001. From 2001 to 2009, he was a director of Sovereign Bank, Wyomissing, PA and Sovereign Bancorporation, Philadelphia, PA.


Andrew has over 50 years of banking experience, with over 40 years in retail banking in our states. Before joining Great Western Bank’s board, he worked at Minden Exchange Bank & Trust Co., Minden, NE for 30 years, serving as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and at the FDIC for over ten years, including as Acting Chairman for a total of three years. He is a director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka and an advisory director at Promontory Financial Group, Washington, DC.

James P. Brannen

James P. Brannen has been a director since October 2015. Mr. Brannen also serves on the board of directors of our bank since 2015. Mr. Brannen has served as Chief Executive Officer of FBL Financial Group, Inc. since August 2012. Prior to that, Mr. Brannen served for 21 years at FBL Financial in various roles including Chief Financial Officer, Chief Administrative Officer & Treasurer, and Vice President of Finance. Mr. Brannen serves as a member of the boards of the United Way of Central Iowa, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the Federation of Iowa Insurers. Brannen was recently named “Outstanding CPA in Business & Industry” by the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Frances Grieb

Frances Grieb has been a director since July 2014. She has also served on the board of directors of our bank since July 2014.

Frances has 29 years of public accounting experience with Deloitte LLP, the international professional services firm, including leadership roles as Lead Client Service Partner and Audit Partner. Prior to her retirement from Deloitte LLP in 2010, she worked with a broad array of financial services entities throughout her career. Additionally, Frances has five years of banking industry experience with Packers National Bank, Omaha, NE. She also serves on the National Advisory Board of the College of Business at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and on the Millard Public Schools Business Advisory Council.

Thomas E. Henning

Thomas Henning has been a director since August 2015. Mr. Henning also serves on the board of directors of our bank since 2015. Mr. Henning has served for over 20 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of Assurity Group Inc., a privately-held life and health insurance company. From 1985 to 1990, he served as Executive Vice President of First Commerce Bancshares and President and Chief Operating Officer of its lead bank, the National Bank of Commerce. From 1983 to 1985, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of First Commerce’s Overland National Bank subsidiary. Prior to that, Mr. Henning served as a Vice President and loan officer specializing in agriculturally related credits. Mr. Henning serves on the board of directors of FHLBank Topeka, where he serves as Chairman of the Risk Management Oversight Committee and as a member of the Audit and Compensation Committees. He also serves on the board of directors of Nelnet, a public education finance company, where he serves as Chairman of the Audit Committee and as a designated financial expert and as a member of the Finance and Risk Management Committee.

James A. Israel

James A. Israel has been a director since October 2016. Mr. Israel also serves on the board of directors of our bank since October 2016. Israel is a retired senior executive of Deere & Company, where he served most recently as President of the Worldwide Financial Services Division in Johnston, IA. Israel spent nearly four decades at Deere & Company, serving in a number of executive roles including SVP, Sales & Marketing, Europe, Africa & the CIS in its Agricultural Equipment Division and SVP of International Lending. Mr. Israel serves as a member of the Tippe College Advisory Board at the University of Iowa, and is a Trustee at Central College in Pella, IA.

Ken Karels

Ken Karels has served as Great Western Bancorporation, Inc.’s President and Chief Executive Officer and on its board of directors since 2010, as well as the President and Chief Executive Officer and on the Board of Directors of Great Western Bancorp, Inc. since its formation in July 2014.

Ken is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Western Bank and serves on the boards of directors of Great Western Bank and our other subsidiaries. He provides overall leadership and is responsible for executive oversight of our bank.

Ken has 40 years of banking experience and expertise in all areas of bank management and strategic bank acquisitions. He has served in several different capacities at Great Western Bank since 2002, including Regional President and Chief Operating Officer for the bank’s branch distribution channel including agriculture, business and retail lending and deposit functions.

During his executive tenure, Ken has helped grow Great Western Bank from $5.2 billion in assets at September 30, 2009 to over $10 billion in assets today. Before joining Great Western Bank, Ken served as President and Chief Executive Officer at Marquette Bank, Milbank, SD, where he was employed for 25 years.

Stephen M. Lacy

Stephen Lacy has been a director since August 2015. Mr. Lacy has also served as a member of our Bank board of directors since April 2015. Mr. Lacy is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Meredith Corporation, a public media and marketing company serving American women. He joined Meredith Corporation in 1998 as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer until 2006, and since then has served as CEO. He was appointed Chairman of the Meredith Corporation in 2010. Mr. Lacy serves on the board of directors of Hormel Foods Corporation, a public corporation, where he is Chair of the Compensation Committee and also serves on the Audit Committee. Mr. Lacy also serves on the board of the Kansas State University Foundation and United Way of Central Iowa.

Daniel Rykhus

Daniel Rykhus is has been a director since July 2014. He joined Great Western Bank as a director and Audit Committee member in 2011. Dan has served as President and CEO of Raven Industries, a publicly-listed corporation that solves great challenges through innovative, high-value products in precision agriculture, high performance specialty films, and situational awareness markets, since August 2010 and has been a member of the board of directors of Raven Industries since 2008.

He has worked in various managerial capacities at Raven Industries since 1991, starting as Manufacturing Manager of the Applied Technology Division and serving from 1999 to 2008 as the Division’s General Manager and, then, as Executive Vice President from 2008 to 2010.

Dan serves on the boards of directors of the Sioux Empire United Way, the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and Face It Together, a nonprofit organization that employs innovative approaches to combating drug and alcohol addiction.

James Spies

James Spies has been a director since August 2015. Mr. Spies has served as a member of our Bank board of directors since May 1983 and is the Chairman of its Trust Committee. Mr. Spies is President of Spies Corporation, a privately-held company that owns, operates, manages and develops real estate, and Spies also owns a number of retail businesses in South Dakota. Mr. Spies has served as a Corporate Director of the Educational Enhancement Funding Corporation since 2002 and has, since 2010, served as a Commissioner of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission. He also served as a member on the South Dakota Transportation Commission from 2005 to 2011.

Testimonials

Stories from Satisfied Customers

We love our customers and they have a few nice things to say about us too. Hear what some of our customers are saying about us.

When Bob Walker talks about his family business he gets a little emotional. For Walker, running his family’s manufacturing business means providing opportunity and improving the lives of those around him. Success has been defined by the company motto – Opportunity Abounds.

Opportunity at Walker dates back to the 1950’s when Walker’s father started out manufacturing and selling an executive golf car, then power trucks, evaporative coolers and ultimately the Walker Mower which began in the late 1970’s. Today, Walker Mowers are distributed throughout the United States and 28 nations. Walker has grown to become a leader in the commercial mower industry.

In 2009, opportunity was tested. The company hit a rough spot. Sales declined. Instead of shipping the shiny yellow mowers to dealers across the country, Walker’s inventory filled the massive warehouse aisles. Walker was forced to lay off 50 of its 175 employees for the first time in company history.

“Our prior bank began to talk to us in ways they never had before,” Walker reflected. “We were criticized for having negative cash flow even though we had a strong balance sheet. They sent in a consultant and auditors. We had been with them for a long time and we thought that stood for something, but it didn’t.”

Even though Walker had been with his previous bank 35 years, through multiple mergers and acquisitions, that wasn’t good enough. Renewal time came, and Walker went looking for a different banking partner.

“Great Western Bank from the very first conversation said ‘we can help’ and that was good news,” smiled Walker. “They had better terms, better covenants, better rates, and a team that was here in Fort Collins that we could meet with and that knew us. That made a huge difference and we haven’t looked back.”

When jeans maker Aalfs Manufacturing of Sioux City, Iowa went looking for a different banking partner three years ago, the third generation company didn’t have to look far. Ed DenBeste of Great Western Bank had been a known businessman and banker in the community for years. Ed and Great Western seemed like a perfect fit to manage the company’s growing needs, according to Aalfs executives.

Aalfs Manufacturing

“We were really looking for a relationship where we could sit across the table from our banker,” said Managing Partner J. Alex Rodawig. “This is our roots. We’re local, our business is in Sioux City and that was important to us.”

Having a neighborhood banker was important to the century-old manufacturer but equally as important was partnering with a bank that was big enough to handle such a large operation. Aalfs produces more than 10 million pairs of jeans a year for companies such as JC Penney, Target, Polo, Haggar, Harley Davidson, Rocky Mountain, Johnston and Murphy, and others. With operations in the United States, Mexico, and Nicaragua, Aalfs employs roughly 5,000 employees internationally with another 100 located in the U.S. including Sioux City, Minneapolis, 
Denver, Dallas, and Seattle.

The multinational business uses a full commercial line of products through Great Western Bank including line of credit transactions, wire transfers, and foreign currency exchange. With the international component of Aalfs’ business and shipping goods over land and sea, Aalfs relies heavily on Ed and Great Western to help the company navigate a very different financial environment today. Their facilities, which used to be within a two-hour drive, are now spread out over an eight-hour airline flight.

“The complexity is huge,” said Rodawig. “Our banking used to be very complex. Now it’s simple. Having a regional partner like Great Western Bank has made our banking business so much easier. It’s the truth.”

As the owners of Lazy 3X Ranches, Mark and Polly Hill were accustomed to herding cattle and sheep. What came as a bit of a surprise to the Western Colorado couple was their inability to find a banking partner that understood and supported their dreams. The Hills were moving from bank to bank every two to three years trying to find a bank that would support their dreams.

Lazy 3X Ranch

“They had our hands tied where we couldn’t do anything,” said Mark Hill, owner of Lazy 3X Ranches.

The Hills were running 800 sheep and 1,500 cattle. That was 2008. They had several partners but were eager to get out on their own. In 2011, a friend suggested they meet Great Western Bank Agri Market President, Joaquin Gallegos. That’s when everything changed, according to the Hills. Their operation has grown to 5,000 sheep and almost 3,000 head of cattle today. Gone are the outside partners. Lazy 3X Ranch is now run solely by the Hill family.

“When we met Joaquin it just took off,” said Hill. “Great Western Bank just got it. They understood where we were coming from and the day-to-day business. The only partner we have now is Great Western Bank.”

Helping the Hills get out on their own was just the start. A rancher himself, Gallegos has become part of the family, going to bull sales, docking sheep, branding calves, and loading lambs. Gallegos has also provided sound counsel, allowing the Hills to be financially secure and withstand tough times. That’s important because their dreams include leaving the land to their children.

“We want to raise our kids the way we were raised,” Hill said. “We want to keep our kids involved so they have a stake in the game.”

Stretching the limits comes naturally to DLR Group. The company of architects makes its business on innovative design. Founded in 1966 with three guys working out of an Omaha, NE garage, DLR has grown today into a top U.S. architectural firm with 850 employees spread across 24 U.S. cities and three international locations. The employee-owned company hasn’t looked back.

“We’re an entrepreneurial organization and we’re not afraid to test the waters,” said Dennis Wiederholt, Chief Financial Officer at DLR.

This entrepreneurial mindset has taken DLR Group from its humble beginnings to work across the world with offices in China, Kenya, and Dubai. The company’s unique designs can be seen in a wide variety of buildings including healthcare, hospitality, higher education, sports facilities, and more. Wiederholt says having a local bank that can grow with his company is critical to their success.

“We’re looking at our banking relationship with the flexibility to move quickly, know who we are, and know what our culture is,” Wiederholt said. “We want face to face with our bankers.”

The inability to move effortlessly in the midst of complex, high stakes transactions has been a deal breaker for Wiederholt. When a different bank once asked DLR to put personal guarantees on a transaction, the company saw this as restrictive and asked Great Western Bank to partner on the large project.

“They’re good listeners,” Wiederholt said. “It’s kind of like management 101 but how fast can you act on something without getting into the bureaucratic side of things? When we put our financing in place for our ESOP 12 years ago, it took one call to Great Western Bank and we had that deal done in four weeks with a big dollar amount. There is a very can-do attitude on both parties’ parts.”

Sioux Falls, SD-based Gage Brothers has built its business one panel at a time. A leader in the precast, pre-stressed industry, Gage Brothers was founded more than a century ago on a 30-acre gravel pit. Gage precast concrete products can be seen all across the United States today. A framed photograph inside their corporate headquarters depicts a Minneapolis, MN skyline imprinted with many of the company’s most prominent building projects.

Gage Brothers

While Gage has always been a company of innovation, the company has grown out of its current location. Their plant, built with many add-ons, is inefficient. But when Gage decided to build a new headquarters they discovered that their current bank could not handle the complex project. They would need to look for a different banking partner.

“So many of the local banks were not big enough to take it on,” said Tom Kelley, President of Gage Brothers. “We didn’t want to go to Minneapolis or Chicago because we really believe in Sioux Falls and wanted to get it done locally. That was really important to us.”

Kelley said he was pleasantly surprised to learn that a local bank could take on the multi-million dollar relocation project. Gage Brothers broke ties with its bank of 60 years and called on Great Western Bank to help the employee-owned company build for the future.

“We invited many banks to come see us and Great Western Bank just seemed to click,” he added. “They saw the vision with us, which was of great importance. Historically banks get pegged as looking in the rear-view mirror and we needed a bank that looked forward and shared our vision. This is a big project. There will be hurdles and we appreciate the fact that we can pick up the phone with our banker and the next day we’re sitting in the same room together.”