Standafer back where he belongs

WORTHINGTON -- John Standafer wanted to come back to a small town. The opportunity to move back to his hometown of Worthington wasn't planned, but it has proven to be the right choice. "I'd been waiting to get to a small town for some time," Stan...

Standafer on ice
Standafer moves the puck up the ice during a recent "Old Timers" hockey game at the Worthington Arena.

WORTHINGTON -- John Standafer wanted to come back to a small town.

The opportunity to move back to his hometown of Worthington wasn't planned, but it has proven to be the right choice.

"I'd been waiting to get to a small town for some time," Standafer said. "It just happened to be this one that opened up, which sweetened the pot for me a little bit."

Standafer grew up in Worthington, graduating from high school in 2001.

"I look back on it (childhood) incredibly fondly," he said of his time in Worthington. "I lived in the same town as both my grandparents and that was a big deal. I got to spend a lot of time with both of them. I became really close to my mom's dad (Fred Rotschafer) after my grandma passed away. At the time of his death, April 27, 2001, I considered him one of my best friends."


Family has always been a big part of Standafer's life.

"Because (my grandparents) were here, a lot of my childhood involved family coming together for Thanksgiving or Christmas here," Standafer said.

"Family get-togethers for us were not forced or a chore at all," he continued, adding that he always looked forward to visits from his cousins. "One week out of every summer, all the Standafers would get together and go to a resort up in Alexandria. That was a staple of growing up. One week out of the year, all the Standafers in one spot.

"Every year that I can remember, my parents would give us a choice. We could either go to Disneyworld for a year or family vacation. We couldn't do both, but we (the kids) could pick. It was always up to the kids, and we never went to Disneyworld. I think that's a testament to how highly anticipated Standafer Vacation was. I've still never been to Disneyworld. I imagine the first time I'll go is when I have kids of my own and that's OK because I still think it would be fun at this age."

After graduating from high school, Standafer went to Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

"I was fortunate to be able to work when I went to school here. I was able to pay it as I went," he said. "I worked at the hockey arena and Movie Gallery when it first opened."

He then went to St. Cloud State, where Standafer pursued a degree in marketing and finance.

"Initially, I was going to be an investment banker. I remember once an uncle of mine said, 'My neighbor is an investment banker and you're a lot like him, I think you'd be really good at that,'" Standafer said. "At the time I was 17 or so and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, so it seemed that investment banking was for me. I got three years into college on course as an investment banker and realized I would prefer more of a face-to-face- with-people type of job. At that time I saw finance as leading into a career of accounting, so I changed to a marketing and finance combination."


After college, he took a job Aerotek Scientific LLC, where he worked in staffing. But the community in the Minneapolis area weighed on Standafer, giving him a yearning to return to a small town with a small commute.

"When I left, I was living in Plymouth, commuting to Arden Hills and my territory was Chanhassen," he said. "So it would be three hours in the car to do one meeting. For a guy who didn't like commuting anyway, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I only lasted about two months in my new territory.

"That's what ultimately led me to leave Aerotek. That was a good job, great co-workers -- at the time I wasn't certain I really wanted to leave. I couldn't stand the commute, but liked everything else."

Eventually he decided a change was needed. He became interested in investing, and decided to look for a job in a small town where he could do investing.

"For a couple years, I had known I was going to be in a small town one way or the other," he said. "Also, for a couple years before I came back, with my personal investing and my personal portfolio, I decided that's what I want to do. I want to do this with other people. I enjoyed it, and I think I'm sort of cut out for this. For me, finance is all about trust."

Standafer interviewed with a few places, but eventually became a financial advisor for Edward Jones.

"I don't want my job to tell me I have to look or be a certain way," he said. "Which is why I eventually settled on Edward Jones as my firm of choice. Jones doesn't tell me to go get a flashy car, or buy more expensive suits. They tell me to take care of my customers and I have job security. ... The first thing I asked Jones when I interviewed with them was, 'Do you expect me to call on my family and friends?' I was told if I had to rely on family and friends for business, I wasn't the guy Jones was looking for.

"It happened to be that the industry I was interested in became available in my hometown," Standafer added about coming back to Worthington. It didn't take long for Standafer to make a move toward his hometown.


"Within a week of hearing about it (the opportunity in Worthington), I was in town exploring the opportunity, trying to really figure out if it was something I'd be interested in," Standafer said. "It just kind of all fell together perfectly in my opinion."

Standafer never envisioned himself back in town. But now that he is, he is happy.

"If you would have asked me the day before I came down to interview, I was like everybody else in that I couldn't wait to get out of Worthington," he said. "But every time I came home, it was nice and really comfortable. It's so cliche to say home is where the heart is, but apparently that was very true for me. Now that I'm back, there are things I don't love about Worthington. I'd be crazy to pretend I loved everything. But, all encompassingly, I'm so much happier down here."

Standafer's office is located in Worthington on Humiston Avenue in the former home of the Log Cabin neighborhood grocery store.

"From the get-go (of moving to Worthington) it was, 'You're going to start in somebody's office until your feet get under you and then you're gone,"' Standafer said. "From the day I moved back to town, this is the building I was going to be in, the old Log Cabin. It has a nostalgic value to me. My grandpa used to live two blocks up the road, and he would send us down here with a buck and we'd buy a bag full of candy. The place has always been special. The location is awesome and what they did with the building, in my opinion, is impressive."

While financial advising is a big part of his job, it's not all he does. Standafer is active in the community through various boards and volunteer work. He is on the board for King Turkey Day, United Way, Regatta and Noon Kiwanis, sits on a committee for the Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Visitors Bureau and is a board member of Client Community Services Inc (CCSI). He also volunteers for Hospice and coaches youth hockey.

"I'm not a great traditional salesperson. I am, however, a good networker. I like to get to know people on both professional levels and personally." he said. "The great part about volunteering is it's a dual-purpose event. I get to volunteer for work. Because when I'm volunteering, although I'm very focused on what I'm doing or the event I'm working with, I'm touching people on a non-business level. In my opinion, because I try to be such a relationship-based business, it's good for me to get to know people outside of a formal office setting."

He also plays on an old-timers' hockey team, "Because I haven't quite figured out that I'm not going to make the big game yet," he said.


And Standafer hopes this is the final stop on his life's journey.

"This is my end game," he said. "If something changes, I'll be the first one that's surprised. I gave up a lot to come down here. I gladly gave that up to come down here, but only because I believe in the opportunity and what it represents."

Standafer in office
John Standafer poses in his Edward Jones office on Humiston Avenue in Worthington.

What To Read Next
Get Local