By Colin Anderson | Photo Courtesy of Idaho Independent Bank | Article provided by Coeur d’Alene Living Local
Idaho Independent Bank (IIB) is a name well known to North Idaho. Many pass by the branches in Hayden and Coeur d’Alene every day on their way to work or school. The name is also well known to those in the southern portion of the state, with multiple locations around the greater Boise area. IIB is celebrating its 25th anniversary this October, and though the bank has become a household name, not everyone knows that the business grew outward across the state from right here in Hayden.
It was 1992 when a group of investors found a serious void in local banking. Utah-based First Security Corporation had recently acquired The First National Bank of North Idaho along with its 10 branches. The original investors felt the time was right to establish a new local, hometown and community-focused bank in Hayden. Their model was to create Idaho Independent Bank as a place where customers could experience a traditional community bank while receiving top-notch professional customer service and timely responses to their loan applications and other financial inquiries.
“IIB has benefited from the big-bank mergers that sent customers looking for hometown institutions with exceptional service and local decision-making,” said President and CEO Kurt Gustavel.
Gustavel was recently appointed president and CEO by founder and current executive chairman of the board Jack Gustavel. Family remains a cornerstone in the bank’s operations.
Jack, along with several other investors and family members, raised $4 million in an initial stock offering and opened the bank’s first office in Hayden on October 12, 1993. Just a year later the bank opened its Coeur d’Alene Branch. Then in October 1996, another $3 million was raised in a secondary stock offering to help fund the opening of a 6,000-square-foot branch in Downtown Boise. By the late ‘90s, IIB had branches in Meridian, Nampa and West Boise and was working on acquiring Washington Federal Savings in Mountain Home to eventually open an IIB location there as well.
A branch in Caldwell, a loan processing center in Ketchum (which soon became a full-service branch), and another location in Star soon followed, and in July of 2007, another Downtown Boise location celebrated its grand opening, bringing the bank’s count to 11 branches which it currently operates today.
From an initial 12 employees at the Hayden Branch, IIB now employs some 200 people with a wide range of skills and backgrounds. IIB is also continually updating its technology while keeping its original focus on customer service at the forefront. IIB utilizes state-of-the-art technology, and data processing is performed in house. Providing great customer service is directly related to the convenience of today’s mobile-banking technology.
“Our bread and butter is the personalized service you get when you visit one of our branches,” said Gustavel. “In addition, it is absolutely necessary to also offer mobile, email and text-based services to combat fraud, stay relevant and provide convenience.”
IIB’s strategy is to couple the personalized service you receive when you’re opening an account or signing a loan at a branch with the tools you’ll need to effectively manage those products after you leave.
Choosing to bank locally—specifically at Idaho Independent Bank—is choosing to directly invest in your local economy and in Idaho businesses. That means that the deposits you keep at IIB are loaned to fellow Idaho residents and business owners, which grows and strengthens our local communities’ and Idaho’s overall economy.
“Although we are committed to operating like a traditional, hometown bank, we continue to look for opportunities for expansion, and Idaho’s major population centers are logical expansion choices,” said Gustavel.
While pleasing shareholders and doing right by customers is a top priority, so is making Idaho Independent Bank a fun and comfortable place to work. Employees are treated with respect and are encouraged to get out in the community whether it be through volunteerism, fun events or just enjoying what North Idaho has to offer. Both local and national publications have taken note of the culture created as the bank has been recognized with several recent awards. In 2016, Idaho Independent Bank was named both the top 1% Most Extraordinary Banks in the U.S. and a Top 200 Healthiest Bank in America. In 2016 and 2017 it was an honoree for Best Places to Work in Idaho, and this year IIB was named to the Top Ten Best Places to Work in Idaho.
In 2017, Idaho Independent Bank employees donated more than 800 volunteer hours to charitable organizations throughout Idaho and contributed more than $25,000 to community causes. Employees are committed to giving back to the local community because it’s where they live, work and play. They are proud to live in Idaho with its exceptional quality of life and want to invest in programs that will continue to strengthen our local communities. Additionally, IIB encourages community involvement through internal programs like IIB Gives, which provide opportunities to learn about local issues and nonprofits and support efforts to get engaged through volunteerism and a corporate matching gift component.
Outside of charitable giving, Idaho Independent Bank is also actively involved in a variety of other sponsorships including: University of Idaho Scholarship Fund, Boise State University, College of Idaho and North Idaho College, as well as many other local public school programs.
From a single branch in Hayden, a hometown bank has grown and flourished, serving communities all across the state. Over the course of 25 years, technology, rates, recession and growth have all affected how banks operate, but the dedication to face-to-face professional customer service has never wavered at Idaho Independent Bank. The bank will continue its mission of taking Idaho dollars to invest in Idaho businesses and homeownership so residents can continue to thrive in the places they love to call home.