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First State Bank and Trust opens in Hudson

From the left are Christine Carufel, branch manager, and Peter Clements, president/ CEO of First State Bank and Trust of Bayport which opened an office in Hudson last week.1 / 2
First State Bank and Trust opened its Hudson branch last week at 219 Second St. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl2 / 2

Its history is strong and steady. First State Bank and Trust was founded in 1914 in Bayport, Minn., by a group of eight community leaders. Today it has 120 shareholders.

"It is truly community owned," said Peter Clements, president of the institution. Today, it has four locations: the original bank in Bayport, and branches in Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, Boutwell's Landing and as of last week, Hudson. "We have shareholders from Hudson and one of our directors, Keith Olson is from Hudson," said Clements.

Coming from a family of bankers, Clements was born and raised in Bayport. He first started working at First State Bank and Trust when he was in high school. During college, while he studied finance, he continued to work there. It was no surprise then when he graduated in 1980 from the University of Minnesota with a finance degree that he would take a full-time position with his hometown bank.

"Even though, I am a finance major, it is a people business," said Clements. "I enjoy using those skills but it is the people that make it worthwhile." With a banker father and brother, it is not a surprise that a young Peter Clements looked towards a career in banking.

"We see great opportunity to do well here because of the growth potential, and we already have a significant client base in Hudson," said Clements. Prior to the Dodd-Frank bill, state banks were not allowed to cross state lines. Banks could only move into an area by acquisition. "We have always focused on securing the financial health of our clients. Our strategic plan calls for us to be good corporate citizens. We contribute and support the communities we are in."

"We are a people bank with good people. It is not necessary to build big buildings with all the online services available," said Clements. "When people come into the bank they want face to face contact with a professional who can assist them." On the south side of the building is an ATM that functions like a 24-hour teller.

Christine Carufel was natural to become the manager of the Hudson branch. The 1990 HHS graduate was born and raised in Hudson.

"Banking had always intrigued me in general," said Carufel, but it was while she was working as a teller at Mid-America Bank in Hudson, that her talent was noticed. At the time she was going to school to be a dental hygienist. Allen Omernik, (who was also with Mid-America which is now Wells Fargo), knew that Carufel had a special touch with customers. It was his encouragement that sent her in a different direction, one that she has followed ever since.

"They moved me up to personal banker," said Carufel, who began taking courses, classes and seminars, many through the Wisconsin Bankers Association, through St. Norbert College in DePere. "I was constantly challenged and learning." She continued with them until 2009. She started with First State Bank and Trust on Feb. 13. Carufel is married with two children.

"I am a people person and there is a lot of interaction with a variety of personalities," said Carufel. "There are a lot of ways to help people in banking from car loans to house mortgages. You can help in so many ways."

First State Bank and Trust is a full service bank offering its clients the tradition banking products.

"We offer checking, savings, CD, loans for car, boat and boat slips," said Clements. "Our bank being located in a town on the St. Croix, we probably have slip loans in every marina." They also offer insurance through Valley Insurances and Hanzlik Financial Services.

Their trust department is well respected throughout the valley and is led by Chad Fett.

"The trust department helps with estate planning, wealth management-planning for your retirement based on the funds you have available," said Clements. "A key part of our strategy is to expand that department in Hudson and to provide better service to our customers who are already trust clients."

As to weathering the economic downturn the First State Bank and Trust survived in good shape.

"We were fortunate our board had set a course that was not real aggressive," said Clements. "We were modestly profitable throughout. We like being stable. We see that as a strength."

The Hudson location is a modest 1,650 square feet, which is their smallest branch from a physical point.

"We are aware that customers are adopting the technology and automation for their transactions," said Clements. "So on staff here, we have people who have authority and who can help on the spot. We feel it is important to have a local presence." Out of a total of 68 employees company-wide, 19 are from Wisconsin.

First State Bank and Trust, 219 Second St., is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The ATM is available 24 hours a day and can take deposits.

For more information, call (715) 808-8183 or go to