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Solberg father, son named 2012 Bankers of Year

Chairman and CEO, State Bank and Trust1 / 2
President and COO, State Bank and Trust2 / 2

FARGO - Two State Bank & Trust leaders have been named 2012 Bankers of the Year by NorthWestern Financial Review.

Richard Solberg, chairman and CEO, and Michael Solberg, president and COO, are the first father and son to have shared the honor, which is intended to feature a bank president or chairman who has positively shaped the banking industry during the previous year.

"Both Michael and I are humbled by the recognition," Richard Solberg said. "A lot of the credit goes to the staff at State Bank."

NorthWestern Financial Review, which covers the banking industry in 14 Upper Midwest states, recognized the Solbergs for their focus on employees, the bank's Pay It Forward program and its health savings account business.

Several years ago State Bank & Trust established its mission statement: "Happy Employees! Happy Customers!" The bank tries to foster a family-friendly culture and rewards its employees with competitive bonus and retirement packages.

"The goal is that it not be a motto, but knowing that by us focusing on our employees they do respond by making sure the bank has happy customers," Richard Solberg said

In 2007, the bank debuted its Pay it Forward program, which was inspired by Michael Solberg's wife, Charleen, who saw something similar on the Oprah Winfrey program. Each employee is given $1,000 annually to donate to any individual or group in need. This has resulted in more than $2.4 million in employee-directed donations since 2008.

In 2003, State Bank & Trust purchased Northern Capital Trust, a trust company and flex spending adjudication business. Richard Solberg said shortly after, State Bank spun off a portion of the business called Discovery Benefits.

It focused on flex benefit administration and later on health savings account administration. Discovery Benefits markets its services to businesses across the nation and brings those health savings account dollars back home to State Bank & Trust.

Michael Solberg said Healthcare Bank, a division of State Bank & Trust and one of Discovery Benefit's clients, is one of the largest health care savings account banks, providing $40 million in deposits to State Bank & Trust's balance sheets.

Michael Solberg said he's "humbled" to be sharing the banker of the year honor with his dad.

"That's the best part of it," he said. "I'm humbled for the honor, but the best part is to be able to share it with my dad. It will be a great family memory for a long time."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501.