Meta business bankers talk trends, city growth

This piece is presented by MetaBank.

With more than 40 years of combined experience in the banking industry, Karen Waller and Tim Rustand bring community connections and a dedication to service excellence to business banking in Sioux Falls.

Meet Karen Waller:

Karen has been with MetaBank for 30 years. She started as a regional branch coordinator and worked in different areas of the bank until her current position as vice president, business banker. She focuses on real estate development lending, honing her skills as MetaBank’s resident expert in hotel development finance. Karen is also a very active contributor to the Sioux Falls community. She is involved with The Compass Center and Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and is a past president of Sioux Falls Sertoma Club.

“The Compass Center is so much stronger for having a board member like Karen,” said Michelle Markgraf, executive director of The Compass Center. “She is full of passion for our survivors and freely shares her banking knowledge to make our organization better.”

Meet Tim Rustand:

Tim offers 18 years of experience in the banking industry with expertise in commercial lending. He has been at MetaBank for 11 years, where he holds the position of vice president, business banker.

“Tim is one of the best bankers we deal with at Lloyd Cos,” said Craig Lloyd.  “His ability to understand a real estate deal, deliver it to his board and communicate with the potential client is one of Tim’s strongest traits. He is great about understanding his clients’ business. MetaBank has been a great go-to bank for large and small real estate deals.”

How did you get into business banking? 

Karen Waller: I had been working in retail consumer banking for 20-plus years and decided it was time for a new challenge. Sioux Falls MetaBank had a very successful team and loyal clients. It seemed like a perfect fit to start a new chapter in my banking career.

Tim Rustand: Business banking is really just working with people to meet their needs, and that is enjoyable to me. It is fun to be a part of the lives of my customers and to be a part of transforming their business concepts into a completed product.

What brought you to MetaBank? 

KW: I started at a branch office in the small town of Manson, Iowa – First Federal Savings & Loan, which eventually became known as MetaBank. I grew into branch management, including eventually moving to our then home office, Storm Lake, Iowa, as the branch coordinator for all of the northwest Iowa offices. I moved to Sioux Falls to take the branch coordinator position 12 years ago. I have been in business banking for the past 10 years.

TR: Eleven years ago, I was in the right place at the right time. MetaBank was just beginning to grow quickly, and I was looking for a new path in my life. MetaBank has been a great place to work and has been very good to me over the years. It is easy to meet with people knowing that the bank I represent truly has the best interest of its customers in mind.          

What do you wish people knew about MetaBank? 

KW: Not to sound cliche, but our bank is all about the people. As our founder, Stan Haahr, always said, “You just need to be good to the people.” Our culture is instilled by the example of the leaders of our bank and is seen at all levels. We strive to do what is in the best interest of the customer. We care about the success of our customers and want to do our part to help them in their endeavors. We are a large bank to handle the big projects and still have the “hometown” atmosphere. Customers notice there is something different about MetaBank when they connect with us: the service mentality of our staff.

TR: MetaBank is a great place to do business. We are very competitive for commercial real estate loans. We strive to provide excellent service. As the loan decisions are made locally, we have the ability to make quick decisions and tailor the structure to meet the needs of customers. MetaBank has received awards and accolades for growth and service; however, it still comes down to just doing the right thing for each and every customer. The same is true for consumer loans. The service provided by our tellers is beyond excellent; they are amazing.    

How has business banking changed/evolved in the past three to five years? 

KW: Business banking has grown exponentially with the growth of Sioux Falls. Positive change and growth have been happening in our city, as well as the growth of our business clients. It is exciting to be part of the growth of our clients and welcome new opportunities as we bring in new clients many times as a result of referrals. We connect our clients with others in the community or other clients when we see an opportunity to assist them in their success. I enjoy working with our clients to serve not only their needs but work to earn the business of the clients they refer to MetaBank.

TR: The loans and projects are larger dollar amounts, which is due to higher costs and better efficiency scales. Fortunately, MetaBank has also grown and has the ability to meet the needs of customers for both large and small projects.

What sort of trends do you see today in business banking? 

KW: I see business banking continuing to expand. We are excited about everything happening in Sioux Falls. You can look in any direction and see growth with housing, commercial expansion, new commercial businesses, industrial, education, medical facility growth and the list goes on. Our business bankers focus on Sioux Falls first but also work with our clients in the other markets they pursue. This makes what we do even more exciting: learning about other parts of the country and watching our customers thrive in many different markets.

TR: Despite the trend for all things online or electronic, customers still want their banking to have that personal touch. They want their banker to do what he says and be a trusted partner. They want their banker to answer the phone when they call.     

What are some of the most exciting things happening in Sioux Falls right now? 

KW: There are so many – which keeps Jodi at SiouxFalls.Business very busy keeping all of us informed! There is so much to be proud of about Sioux Falls: new construction and growth in so many areas of town and diverse segments such as Foundation Park, downtown projects, construction of new housing of all kinds, new office buildings and a lot going on in the medical area as well as new and expanding schools. We are also excited about having the Premier Center and the various new sports complexes.

TR: The city is experiencing growth in several measurable statistics including people, businesses, jobs, entertainment, education, opportunities and so forth. Something I find exciting is that kids who grew up here are choosing to stay in the area or choosing to move back here to live, work and raise their families, thereby making Sioux Falls a better place for everyone.

The commercial interest in Sioux Falls is growing. Why do you think that is?

KW: We are fortunate to have our city have good access to interstates, railroad and easy access to an airport. We have visionary leaders and developers who work well to get projects completed. There is enthusiasm and backing from the local government, an active chamber of commerce and the people of Sioux Falls. I believe Sioux Falls acts like a real community. People are involved and take part and care about the community.

TR: People who do not live in Sioux Falls are discovering that it is a great place to do business and raise a family. The local economy remains strong and historically has been stable even when other parts of the country have issues. The people of South Dakota are hardworking, honest and well-educated, and outsiders see a good thing and want to be a part it.    

What do you do when you aren’t working? 

KW: I am active in various organizations, with my greatest passion as board president for The Compass Center. I also enjoy working on the chamber’s small-business development committee and stay connected with the Leadership Sioux Falls alumni group. The other portion of my time away from work is spent with my family: my husband and four children — the youngest two are twins who are graduating from high school next year. I also enjoy walking, reading and learning something new every day. I believe we should all be lifelong learners.

TR: I spend time with family and friends. I recently become involved with Children’s Home Society, which is a terrific organization for a tremendous cause. 

Meta business bankers talk trends, city growth

With more than 40 years of combined experience in the banking industry, Karen Waller and Tim Rustand bring community connections and a dedication to service excellence to business banking in Sioux Falls.

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