The Decorah Bank & Cresco Bank Story

More than Your Traditional Bank

Our Philosophy

Because we are not owned by outside investors who are typically interested in next quarters’ earnings, we are able to think differently. The bank is owned by the Grimstad family and its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan so the decisions we make are long term in nature. There is no need to focus on short term earnings because the bank is not for sale. We believe that by treating our customers and employees fairly and with respect they deserve, the bank will prosper in the long run.

Banking, like all other industries, has become competitive. We understand that we must provide excellent service, convenience, competitive pricing and services to maintain customer relationships. We make every effort to do this, while also doing our part to help the community prosper. Our bank, directors, officers, and employees are committed to giving back to the community by offering their time, talent, and resources to many worthy causes.

Our goal is to add value to our client relationships by identifying their needs and then helping them reach their goals.

Our History

  • Chartered by the State of Iowa in 1935, Decorah Bank & Trust Company was started by a group of Decorah citizens as Security Trust and Savings Bank.
  • During its first year, the bank was sold to a bank liquidator named Ray Kaster, who successfully managed it for the next 24 years.
  • In 1960, Harold Grimstad purchased the bank and changed its name to Security Bank & Trust Company.
  • In 1978, Larry Grimstad, Harold’s son, managed and in 2000, the bank changed its name to Decorah Bank & Trust Company.
  • In 2000 and 2002, Ben and Joseph Grimstad joined the organization and became the third generation of Grimstads and continue to manage the bank.
  • In 2007, Cresco Bank & Trust Co. became a division of Decorah Bank & Trust Co. Donna Thomas is serving as the bank president of the Cresco location and has been employed at the bank since 1981.

A Message from Ben, Joe, & Donna

It’s an exciting time to be a banker! The fulfilling part of banking is helping people. It is rewarding when we help a family buy a new home. It is fascinating learning about agriculture and providing credit to purchase livestock or put a crop in the field. And there is satisfaction in helping someone work through a tough situation when faced with life’s challenges. This is what being a community banker is about.

Sometimes we worry when fewer and fewer people come in the bank. Where are our customers? Many are banking online with us. Ben’s daughter received a Christmas check and that morning deposited it with her phone. To her, good customer service is ensuring our mobile banking is always up and running! These time saving tools are great and we are here to see you face to face when the need arises. You are always welcome in your bank!

There is talk of interest rates going up. The Federal Reserve just increased Fed Funds rates from 0.25% to 0.50%. The market believes this rate will go to 1.00% or so within a year. This short term rate affects savings accounts, CDs and money market accounts. Savers may receive a little more on their deposits – but unfortunately still very low. Wall Street is also projecting only slight increases in long term rates which affect fixed rate mortgages. Borrowers can still lock in 30 year mortgage rates today in the 3.75% to 4.25% range. While these rates might inch up a bit, they will continue to be historically low for some time. This is good news for folks borrowing money and not so good for savers. It could be worse. The European Central Bank just lowered their Fed Funds rate to -0.30%. A negative interest rate! Depositors in Europe have to pay to keep their money safe! The world economy is slow and currently U.S. rates are the best (and safest) around.

Decorah Bank and Cresco Bank is considered a small sized community bank. We now have over $400 million in assets on our books, our Wealth Management team manages another $200 million in assets for our customers off our books and we have originated and service another $200 million in fixed rate mortgages. While this seems like a lot of dough, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the billion and even trillion dollar financial institutions out there. For us, we are a good size. We are big enough to be able to keep up with the continual change in banking and technology and small enough to pay attention to customer and community needs. In the U.S., we are now losing, on average, one community bank a day to mergers and acquisitions. Lack of succession planning, heavy regulation and economies of scale are at play here. Other industries are facing similar challenges. Fortunately, we have good succession planning in place, some new talent, and we do business in a healthy community that supports its local businesses. We plan on sticking around for the long haul! We thank you for your business and invite you to visit us anytime in 2016 and beyond.

Ben Grimstad

Ben Grimstad
Decorah Bank & Trust Co.

Joe Grimstad

Joe Grimstad
Decorah Bank & Trust Co.


Donna Thomas
Cresco Bank & Trust Co., a division of Decorah Bank & Trust Co.

 Sustainability Commitment