Using FDIC data for 2022, we calculated a lender score out of 100 for each community bank. The score combines the average of the bank’s percentile rank for lending concentration and for loan growth over the past year in each lending category. We then adjusted each score for loan charge-offs in each category at certain percentile thresholds.

agriculture icon


Traditional relationships, new operations

By William Atkinson

As technology and regulations have evolved over time, so has agricultural lending.

“The ag lending landscape is constantly evolving, and therefore the customer needs change as well,” says Branden Logue, who is president and CEO of $285 million-asset Bath State Bank in Bath, Ind., as well as president of Bath State Bancorp and vice president of Bath Insurance Group. “The past couple of years have been very volatile in terms of fertilizer prices, chemicals prices, commodity prices, cash rents and interest rates.” 

Bath State Bank team
Bath State Bank in Bath, Ind., was built around ag lending. The team, from left: Barb Bruns, Brandon Ertel, Krissy Myers, Molly Belmonte, Maria Chesnut, Annette Meier, Alex Nocton and Keaton Mueller. Not pictured: Greg Selking.

Dan Schopp, president and CEO of $109 million-asset First Security Bank in Mackinaw, Ill., has also seen changes in ag lending. 

“The last two years have seen great prices and good net incomes, following five years of lower commodity prices and tight times,” he says. “Ag needs have changed with a need for larger lines of credit, because of increased acres per farmer and higher input costs.”

The difficult part for the typical farmer is that most changes in the ag lending landscape are out of their control, especially since prices have been affected by trade policy, war and the supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “This makes it more difficult for a beginning farmer to compete with an established operation,” Logue says, “which can spread the costs of new purchases over more acres.”

In response, many community banks are turning to new methods to set their clients up for success. For $237 million-asset Heartland Bank, in Manson, Iowa, technological advances and consolidation of operations are changing the complexity of farming.

First Security Bank team
The First Security Bank lending team. From left: Vice president commercial lending Ryan Curtis; branch manager/ag lender Rebecca Dwyer, president/CEO Dan Schopp; vice president Sheri Golden; and vice president agricultural lending Trent Ahlers.

“Farmers are essentially CEOs of growing and complex operations,” says John S. Rosenboom, executive vice president. “Understanding how they manage their operation, current financials, break-evens and up-to-date cash flows are essential details that lenders need to understand in order to guide financial decisions that will impact their bottom line.”

Heartland Bank’s strategies also include utilizing industry schools, events, peer groups and webinars to learn more about agriculture, banking, and credit management. 

“We invest in software for underwriting credits and provide in-depth information and trendlines of farmers’ operations to work with them to achieve their goals,” says Rosenboom. “At the end of the day, we as banks all sell the same products for similar prices. Customer service, beneficial relationships and added value are what differentiate our team.”

Strong relationship banking

One reason for Bath State Bank’s success in ag lending is that the bank was built around ag lending, and its commitment has never wavered.  

“Our entire management team and ag department have farming roots and are still involved in some form of production agriculture today,” explains Logue. “We are bankers who enjoy getting out and visiting the operations and seeing how different producers operate, and building genuine relationships with our customers.”

Heartland Bank
Heartland Bank’s ag lending team. Top, from left: Austin Nerhus, Kevin Black, John S. Rosenboom and Braden Moser. Bottom, from left: Randy Besch, Steve Tucker, Tommy Halligan. Not pictured: Scott Weber and Jared Taggart.

The team at Heartland Bank spends a lot of their time visiting the farms and learning everything possible about the operations they are working with. “Our lenders keep informed and share information with their customers, which helps build trusting relationships that also lead to referrals down the road,” Rosenboom says.

Finding the right people

Similarly, Schopp points at First Security Bank’s efforts in developing knowledgeable and experienced lenders who understand their farm clients’ business as a key part of its successful ag lending.

“When we hire, we look for someone who understands agriculture, who has grown up around or been exposed to the ag sector of our economy,” he says. “We can teach them how to spread and analyze farm financials much easier when they already understand and can ‘talk the talk’ of agriculture.”

As for the future, Logue looks to Bath State Bank’s clientele. “We let customer needs drive the decisions to change or modify how we conduct ag lending,” he says. “We view ourselves as a tool for the farmers to use to maximize their success, and we are thankful to be a part of that.”

Agriculture: less than $300M in assets
RankBank NameCityStateAg Lender
1 Lusk State Bank Lusk WY 95.5
2 Rolette State Bank Rolette ND 93.7
3 Farmers Trust and Savings Bank Williamsburg IA 93.7
4 Bath State Bank Bath IN 93.6
5 Anchor State Bank Anchor IL 93.5
6 Bank of Gibson City Gibson City IL 93.5
7 First Security Bank Mackinaw IL 93.4
8 First Community Bank Beemer NE 93.2
9 Iowa State Bank and Trust Company Fairfield IA 92.8
10 Lamont Bank of St. John Saint John WA 92.3
11 Heartland State Bank Redfield SD 92.2
12 State Bank Northwest Spokane Valley WA 92.1
13 Peoples State Bank of Velva Velva ND 92.0
14 Grant County State Bank Carson ND 91.9
15 State Bank of Jeffers Jeffers MN 91.9
16 The First State Bank Abernathy TX 91.7
17 Heartland Bank Gowrie IA 91.6
18 Farmers National Bank of Griggsville Griggsville IL 91.4
19 Iroquois Farmers State Bank Iroquois IL 91.1
20 The First National Bank Of Hereford Hereford TX 90.9
Agriculture: $300M to $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateAg Lender
1 First United Bank Park River ND 94.3
2 Dakota Heritage Bank Hunter ND 94.0
3 KodaBank Drayton ND 92.3
4 First Southern Bank Florence AL 91.1
5 Farmers Trust & Savings Bank Buffalo Center IA 90.9
6 BankNorth Arthur ND 90.4
7 Iowa State Bank Orange City IA 90.2
8 TrustBank Olney IL 89.9
9 Dakota Western Bank Bowman ND 89.5
10 Farmers Bank and Trust Company Blytheville AR 89.5
11 Hoosier Heartland State Bank Ladoga IN 89.2
12 Winnsboro State Bank & Trust Company Winnsboro LA 88.7
13 United Valley Bank Cavalier ND 88.6
14 First State Bank Webster City IA 88.6
15 HOMEBANK Palmyra MO 88.5
16 Verimore Bank Brookfield MO 88.3
17 Texas Heritage National Bank Daingerfield TX 88.2
18 Thumb Bank & Trust Pigeon MI 88.1
19 Decorah Bank and Trust Company Decorah IA 87.3
20 Profinium, Inc. Truman MN 87.3
Agriculture: More than $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateAg Lender
1 First Financial Bank El Dorado AR 92.6
2 Fidelity Bank & Trust Dyersville IA 90.4
3 BTC Bank Bethany MO 89.1
4 American Bank & Trust Sioux Falls SD 87.2
5 First Bank of Berne Berne IN 86.4
6 Elkhorn Valley Bank & Trust Norfolk NE 86.3
7 Opportunity Bank of Montana Helena MT 84.5
8 Pinnacle Bank Fort Worth TX 83.1
9 The First National Bank In Sioux Falls Sioux Falls SD 83.0
10 First State Bank Mendota IL 82.3
11 Peoples Bank and Trust Company McPherson KS 82.2
12 United Bank of Iowa Ida Grove IA 81.9
13 Security State Bank & Trust Fredericksburg TX 81.8
14 Dakota Community Bank & Trust, National Association Hebron ND 81.8
15 Peoples Bank Lubbock TX 81.4
16 Richwood Bank Richwood OH 80.9
17 Citizens Alliance Bank Clara City MN 80.5
18 Independence Bank Havre MT 80.4
19 BankWest, Incorporated Pierre SD 79.9
20 Frandsen Bank & Trust Lonsdale MN 79.8
commercial icon


Offering Consistency
in Inconsistent Times

By Mindy Charski

With rising interest rates and inflation on the move, the word “consistency” doesn’t have an easy association with the current banking environment.

Yet, consistency in various forms has helped three very different community banks excel at commercial lending. Below, they share some of their secrets of success.

1. Be a bank that customers can rely on

Central Texas is a diverse market in growth mode, which makes it a fabulous place to be a local lender. Jeff Wilkinson, chairman and chief executive officer of $800 million-asset Keystone Bank, jokes, “We’re in Austin, Texas. I don’t even think I can screw it up.”

But in truth, thriving requires the right ingredients. “You have to decide who you are, and you have to stick to that,” Wilkinson says. “You can’t keep changing and trying to think that you’re going to be all things to all people.”

Indeed, rather than seeking to do business with everyone, Keystone Bank largely targets entrepreneurs and business owners and operators with certain attributes. Among them: liquidity, a track record of success and a desire to build a relationship with local decision-makers.

Paul Howell
Paul Howell, BankPlus

For $7 billion-asset BankPlus in Ridgeland, Miss., maintaining “consistent relationships” even in a unique year has been critical, says executive vice president and chief lending officer Paul Howell. “We certainly want to be a prudent lender and are, but we want to meet the needs of our customers in all cycles,” he says. “We want to be a consistent partner for our customers, and I think that’s helped us grow over the past year.” 

Likewise, $3.4 billion-asset Five Star Bank in Rancho Cordova, Calif., has benefited from staying deeply ingrained in specific industries. The community bank lends to owners and operators of mobile home parks across the country, for instance, which represents about 30% of its business and was one of the bank’s biggest growth areas last year. Other niches include recreational vehicle (RV) parks, churches and storage facilities. 

“I think if you’re serving any particular niche, vertical or community, people have to know that you’re in it for the long run, that you’re not going to jump in and then jump out,” says James Beckwith, the bank’s president and chief executive officer. 

2. Always deliver a high level of service 

At Five Star Bank, which has a California footprint of seven full-banking offices and a loan production office, “speed to serve” is a cultural focus. “We’re a small bank. How are we going to outcompete the majors?” Beckwith says. “We have to do it more quickly and do it correctly and make the right credit decisions.” 

The second part of the bank’s mantra is “certainty of execution.” Customers seeking commercial real estate financing need to have confidence that a bank will be able to deliver a loan when it’s time to close, Beckwith says.

Bank Plus team
The BankPlus team members who work in commercial lending, real estate and business services. From left: Aaron Lacey, Chad Boarman, Macie Northington, Nic James, Janet Jones, Blake Parker, Joe Ann Thurman and Jessica Haley Leflore.

BankPlus cites culture as a priority in serving its clientele; it even has a chief culture officer. “We understand that we may have different jobs, but we’re all equally important to meeting our customers’ needs,” says Howell.

Quick Stat


The number of members in BankPlus’s educational network for women in business

“Because if we don’t do that internally, our customers aren’t going to see what they need to see.” 

The bank strives to offer the same customer experience across its more than 90 locations in diverse markets in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

Meanwhile, at three-branch Keystone Bank, customers get the cell phone numbers of bankers, including Wilkinson’s. 

3. Provide reliable resources for new and small businesses

Keystone Bank offers its customers solutions for treasury management through its core provider and can plug in tools from partners for merchant services, payroll and human resources. “We can’t just sit here and say, ‘Well, we can only take a deposit and make a loan,’” says Wilkinson. “We’ve constantly got to be adding product that our customers need and want.” 

Five Star Bank
Five Star Bank’s SVP/chief banking officer Mike Rizzo with client Brian Lawrence, president of Emigh Ace Hardware, which recently celebrated its 115th anniversary.

Five Star Bank’s treasury cash management products help it win new business, Beckwith says, adding, “Our offering in treasury cash management is usually superior to what [a borrower’s] incumbent bank is offering.”

A very different kind of resource has gained traction at BankPlus. In 2017, it launched The Source, a network of educational events for women in business where they can ask questions and receive advice from lending officers. 

Today, there are about 1,715 members, 669 of whom are BankPlus customers who are tied in some way to $29 million in loans and $31 million in deposits. 

Although correlating the initiative to dollar volumes is difficult, Howell eyes a long-term benefit. “When you help people start businesses, obviously some of those businesses are going to get bigger than others,” he says, “and it will provide an opportunity for loans and other banking products over time.”

Commercial: less than $300M in assets
RankBank NameCityStateCommercial Lender
1 Granite Bank Cold Spring MN 97.6
2 Kendall Bank Overland Park KS 95.3
3 First National Bank and Trust Company
of Weatherford
Weatherford OK 95.3
4 Currency Bank Oak Grove LA 94.8
5 Bodcaw Bank Stamps AR 94.3
6 Aspire Bank Hatton ND 94.3
7 Key Community Bank Inver Grove Heights MN 92.9
8 Collins State Bank Collins WI 92.3
9 Republic Bank of Arizona Phoenix AZ 91.2
10 United Republic Bank Elkhorn NE 90.4
11 Luminate Bank Minnetonka MN 90.2
12 California Pacific Bank San Francisco CA 90.0
13 Citizens State Bank Anton TX 89.7
14 Millennial Bank Leeds AL 89.5
15 Coastal Bank & Trust Jacksonville NC 89.1
16 Greenfield Banking Company Greenfield TN 88.9
17 State Bank Rock Springs WY 88.6
18 Home Bank of California San Diego CA 88.6
19 Andover State Bank Andover KS 88.5
20 The Peoples Bank Marion KY 88.5
Commercial: $300M to $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateCommercial Lender
1 Quaint Oak Bank Southampton PA 98.0
2 OptimumBank Ft. Lauderdale FL 97.6
3 M1 Bank Clayton MO 97.2
4 Blue Sky Bank Pawhuska OK 96.5
5 Mission Valley Bank Sun Valley CA 96.3
6 Saint Louis Bank Saint Louis MO 95.6
7 Louisiana National Bank Arcadia LA 95.6
8 Keystone Bank, SSB Austin TX 95.6
9 Capital Community Bank Provo UT 94.6
10 Farmers State Bank of Alto Pass, Ill. Harrisburg IL 94.5
11 Premier Bank Minnesota Hastings MN 94.2
12 Bank of Idaho Idaho Falls ID 93.2
13 Barwick Banking Company Barwick GA 93.2
14 Peoples Bank Mendenhall MS 92.7
15 Osgood Bank Osgood OH 92.3
16 CNB Bank Carlsbad NM 92.0
17 American Commerce Bank, National Association Bremen GA 91.8
18 Great American Bank Lawrence KS 91.3
19 Hiawatha National Bank Hager City WI 90.9
20 Crown Bank Edina MN 90.9
Commercial: more than $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateCommercial Lender
1 State Bank of Texas Dallas TX 97.7
2 Bankwell Bank New Canaan CT 96.7
3 American State Bank Arp TX 96.4
4 American Commercial Bank & Trust Ottawa IL 95.5
5 InBank Raton NM 95.0
6 Five Star Bank Sacramento CA 94.8
7 Metropolitan Commercial Bank New York NY 94.6
8 b1BANK Baton Rouge LA 94.4
9 Sunflower Bank, National Association Denver CO 93.6
10 Home Bank, National Association Lafayette LA 93.5
11 Bank Of Clarke Berryville VA 93.2
12 SouthPoint Bank Birmingham AL 92.6
13 CFG Community Bank Baltimore MD 92.3
14 United Texas Bank Dallas TX 92.0
15 The State Bank Fenton MI 91.5
16 Southern States Bank Anniston AL 90.9
17 NBH Bank Greenwood Village CO 90.7
18 The Middlefield Banking Company Middlefield OH 90.6
19 BankPlus Belzoni MS 90.5
20 Guaranty Bank Springfield MO 90.4
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Managing the
Mortgage Markets

By William Atkinson

The past few years in the mortgage lending space have been tumultuous, to say the least. Between housing demand outpacing supply, sky-high prices and rising interest rates, community bank lenders have had to innovate to meet new challenges. Three community banks share their experience working in this changing market.

The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

With the limited housing inventory in The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod’s market, coupled with more remote workers, many people have chosen to renovate their existing homes instead of selling their homes, says Shanika Rogowski, senior vice president and chief residential lending officer for the $1.5 billion-asset community bank in Hyannis, Mass.

Construction loans, equity loans and lines of credit have become very popular, especially among homeowners who have refinanced in the past few years, she says. These options allow homeowners the flexibility to improve their properties while being able to keep the low rate on their first lien mortgage.

Cooperative Bank Cape Cod team
The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod’s residential and consumer lending team at the bank’s headquarters in Hyannis, Mass. The bank recently expanded its digital platforms, resulting in growth in its consumer and mortgage lending.

The community bank has recognized a growing need for technology and high-level customer service, Rogowski says. “This shift has helped us to leverage digital platforms, allowing us to compete on a more global landscape.”

As a result of optimizing its digital platforms and implementing a hybrid/remote work culture, the bank has expanded its market area by hiring high-producing loan officers and adding quality support staff in areas where it previously had not been able to attract employee talent or customers. “We attribute 40% of our consumer/mortgage lending growth to this expansion plan,” she says.

The community bank offers a streamlined documentation-gathering process and integrated smart technology, reducing keystrokes for applications. Financial documentation can be uploaded during the application process at the click of a button, while disclosures and closing documents can be viewed and signed electronically with the Cooperative Bank’s new hybrid e-close process.

“Consumers expect quick response times, streamlined processes and a quick, convenient closing experience,” Rogowski says, “and we have been able to deliver on these expectations.”

Cullman Savings Bank

For $417 million-asset Cullman Savings Bank, in Cullman, Ala., the extended low-rate environment over the past few years created higher demand for new construction and existing home sales.

“This resulted in higher building costs and property values, thus changing the lending landscape,” says Matt Townson, senior vice president and chief lending officer. “Our customers were also able to take advantage of the housing market, either by accessing their equity from sales of property or refinancing in the low-rate environment.”

Cullman Savings Bank team
The Cullman Savings Bank mortgage team. From left: Laurie Ewing, Tania Albarran, Cindy Kritner, Sondra Lawrence and Audrey Harbison. The bank attributes its success in mortgage lending to holding 30-year mortgages in its portfolio.

According to Townson, the community bank’s mortgage lending success is the result of holding 30-year mortgages in its portfolio, which most of its competitors do not do. “We are able to produce more loans and service more customers by offering this product,” he says.

“Our bank started in 1887 as a building and loan association, making loans to its members to build homes,” he adds. “We like to say, ‘Stick to what you know.’ We have the history and ability to do that in our area.”

Due to recent growth in Cullman Savings Bank’s area, it’s also been able to bolster its commercial lending. “The recent growth in our area has given us success in our commercial portfolio, and this has allowed us to be able to book mortgage and consumer loans a little more aggressively,” he says. “We’ve done this by offering very competitive rates.”

Community Bank Delaware

Community Bank Delaware in Lewes, Del., cites several keys to success in consumer and mortgage lending. “We offer competitive rates, personal service and quick turnaround,” says Chris Benjamin, senior vice president for the $311 million-asset community bank. “We treat the customer as a relationship, rather than a transaction. We also have products that most of the big banks don’t have.

Community Bank Delaware
Community Bank Delaware’s SVP Chris Benjamin and president Jack Riddle at a project in Rehoboth Beach, Del., with builder Nate Graulich

“We have found that most people want to work with a lender that offers fair rates and knows the market,” he adds. “Our time from application to approval is also very important, and that is where community banks can shine. Borrowers appreciate not just being a number in an online portal.”

Community Bank Delaware offers a full menu of products that buyers look for: lot loans, single close construction loans and fixed-rate mortgages. “We also have good relationships with the builders in our area, which helps smooth out any construction loan issues,” Benjamin says.

Looking to the future, the bank is evaluating easier ways to exchange information. In fact, it has already implemented Citrix ShareFile, a secure portal for transfer of information.

Consumer/Mortgage: less than $300M in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1 Warsaw Federal Savings and Loan Association Cincinnati OH 97.2
2 Tioga-Franklin Savings Bank Philadelphia PA 95.9
3 Peoples First Savings Bank Mason OH 95.0
4 1st National Bank Lebanon OH 94.0
5 Odin State Bank Odin MN 94.0
6 Stock Exchange Bank Caldwell KS 93.5
7 Vantage Bank Alexandria MN 93.1
8 Heritage Bank Minnesota West Concord MN 92.9
9 Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association Gouverneur NY 92.9
10 Davis Trust Company Elkins WV 92.0
11 Compass Savings Bank Wilmerding PA 91.8
12 PNB Community Bank Niceville FL 90.0
13 Liberty Bank Poulsbo WA 90.0
14 Monroe Savings Bank Williamstown NJ 89.5
15 Luminate Bank Minnetonka MN 89.5
16 First Security Bank of Deer Lodge Deer Lodge MT 89.3
17 Cheyenne State Bank Cheyenne WY 89.3
18 The National Iron Bank Salisbury CT 89.2
19 FNB Bank, Inc. Romney WV 88.7
20 Grand Timber Bank McGregor MN 88.6
Consumer/Mortgage: $300M-$1B in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1 University Bank Ann Arbor MI 98.4
2 Citizens Bank of West Virginia, Inc. Elkins WV 95.2
3 Bank of Lake Mills Lake Mills WI 94.7
4 Chickasaw Community Bank Oklahoma City OK 94.6
5 First Capital Bank Laurinburg NC 94.1
6 Bogota Savings Bank Teaneck NJ 93.5
7 Eclipse Bank, Inc. Louisville KY 92.5
8 Norwood Co-operative Bank Norwood MA 92.1
9 Beacon Community Bank Charleston SC 92.0
10 Tower Community Bank Jasper TN 91.9
11 One American Bank Sioux Falls SD 91.8
12 Empire State Bank Staten Island NY 91.0
13 Pendleton Community Bank, Inc. Franklin WV 90.6
14 Cullman Savings Bank Cullman AL 89.8
15 Coffee County Bank Manchester TN 89.2
16 First Central Savings Bank Glen Cove NY 88.8
17 The Dart Bank Mason MI 88.6
18 Community Bank Delaware Lewes DE 88.0
19 Sanibel Captiva Community Bank Sanibel FL 87.4
20 Guaranty Bank & Trust Company of Delhi Delhi LA 87.4
Consumer/Mortgage: more than $1B in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1 Apex Bank Camden TN 96.8
2 The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod Hyannis MA 94.1
3 Roscoe State Bank, a division of Cornerstone Capital Bank, SSB Roscoe TX 92.7
4 NexBank Dallas TX 91.8
5 First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Lakewood Lakewood OH 90.8
6 Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Association Baltimore MD 89.9
7 Royal Business Bank Los Angeles CA 89.6
8 Community Financial Services Bank Benton KY 89.5
9 First Federal Savings Bank of Twin Falls Twin Falls ID 88.7
10 Bradesco BAC Florida Bank Coral Gables FL 88.5
11 Evergreen Bank Group Oak Brook IL 88.2
12 Metro City Bank Doraville GA 86.8
13 Primis Bank Ashland VA 86.7
14 Plains Commerce Bank Sioux Falls SD 86.6
15 BayCoast Bank Fall River MA 86.4
16 Main Street Bank Marlborough MA 85.8
17 Bell Bank Fargo ND 85.7
18 Southern First Bank Greenville SC 85.5
19 Cross River Bank Fort Lee NJ 84.8
20 Shore United Bank, National Association Easton MD 84.7

William Atkinson is a writer in Illinois. Mindy Charski is a writer in Texas.