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Vis receives banking honor

First State Bank Southwest Real Estate Loan Officer Mark Vis (left) and Real Estate Loan Assistant Linda Rossow are pictured at the bank last week. Vis was recognized by the Independent Community Bankers of America as Outstanding Community Lender of 2013. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Mark Vis thought he was going to the Hickory Lodge for some kind of bank announcement.

"I had sent an email out as president to the entire organization to all the offices saying we are going to make a special announcement on Thursday night, your attendance is expected. Not appreciated, expected," First State Bank Southwest President Greg Raymo said. "They all came there with the incredible expectations of what this announcement was going to be."

In fact, the gathering was to announce that Vis was selected nationally as Outstanding Community Lender of 2013 by the Independent Community Bankers of America.

"I was shocked," Vis said. "I was very humbled by the response. We work day in and day out, and everybody works here together as a team, and you don't expect to get individual recognition like that for something, especially from a national standpoint."

Eight lenders were selected nationwide in separate categories.

"The party that night was the first time I heard about it," Vis explained. "They kept it a secret, and they wanted to throw a party. We all assumed it was a bank announcement of some kind. It was more of a personal note for (real estate loan assistant) Linda (Rossow) and myself as recognition for us. They brought our families there, which we didn't know about either."

Raymo explained it rarely happens to have an award winner from Minnesota, let alone from Worthington.

"The reason it was so impressive is when you realize there are 7,000 banks in the country and you get an individual from your own organization recognized nationally, that doesn't happen very often in Minnesota," he said. "The guy from Minnesota said in the time he's been the director the association, he doesn't remember that it's happened. It's a great accomplishment."

Vis was born to be in banking, so to speak. Growing up in Hull, Iowa, he watched as his mother was an integral part of the community by working in the local bank.

"My mom has been in banking for 25 years," Vis said. "I just saw the appreciation the community had for her in Hull, and whether it be when she walked in the grocery store or helped with senior club tours and opening accounts, so everybody knew her at the front door as the receptionist who helped everybody out with all their questions. I saw an immediate appreciation for that. My dad was a teacher for 40 years, and I knew I wasn't into teaching. I love the business world, and banking really intrigued me from my mom getting involved in it."

Vis attended Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, graduating in 2001. He spent five years in Montana working as a lender at a bank.

However, with his roots in this part of the country, he made the move back to Worthington. He will celebrate his seven-year anniversary at First State Bank Southwest next month.

"It's always difficult moving into a new community and being in a position where you want those referrals and you want those people to know you," Vis said. "I have respect for all kinds of employment, but it's different when you work in manufacturing or if you are a contractor, because then you have that job that's giving you the work. Here, you're expecting the people to know who you are to get the business."

Over the past five years, Vis has grown his volume, going from $7 million in financed loans in 2009 to nearly $14 million in 2012.

"It's a team effort amongst the employees here, but also with the Realtors and non-profit groups around town that help with home-ownership counseling and different things," Vis said. "It takes a big team effort to get people to understand about home ownership. Everybody wants to own their own house and they want their own place, but they don't know the steps to get there."

Vis said gaining trust has been a key factor in the success he's had.

"Among all the different ethnic groups in Worthington, you build trust with one or two or three, and it just grows," he said. "It multiplies huge. I think I've had one individual that's come in that I did his own loan, and I think I've done eight loans for friends of his or co-workers of his. They trust him, and he trusts me to get it done."

His involvement within the diverse community was one of the reasons Raymo recommended Vis for the award.

"I think what attracted the attention to Mark was it had a lot to do with it's a huge volume number, but more importantly, it's what Mark experiences because of the diversity in our community," Raymo said. "The best example is a 12-year-old daughter coming in with her two parents and translating the entire transaction for her parents because neither one of them speak English. To realize Mark deals with that on a day-to-day basis and still does these kinds of numbers is an incredible achievement."

When Vis isn't working, he spends time with his family. He and his wife, Crystal, have three children, Brielle, Mia and Elia.

He also enjoys golfing, is the treasurer for a local Kiwanis Club and is on the school board for Worthington Christian School.

"Everybody getting involved helps bring business in the door, and we take care of them at that point," Vis said. "It's definitely a big team effort to get it all done."

Both Vis and Raymo give credit to Rossow.

"She brought a talent to the table that complemented his ability to produce," Raymo said. "The other lenders have watched that and realized how significant that assistant is to them. If they don't have a strong assistant, their production doesn't go up."

The most rewarding part of the job for Vis is handing over the keys for someone's new house.

"It's an exciting time," Vis said. "In real estate, you develop that relationship because you meet with them several times. Sometimes you're a counselor to get them to that point to be pre-approved. It's rewarding to get that end point, to hand them the keys and actually see the appreciation on their face. It's not an easy process sometimes, but the more challenging ones are even more rewarding."

Vis is again on pace for his best year yet, and has received other awards for his work in real estate lending.

"It's the relationships he's built with the Realtors in town," Raymo said. "That's really where it starts, and he's earned that. You can put in 80 hours a week, but if you don't get the referrals from the Realtors working with you, that's a huge piece of you."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.

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