GILBERT — Matthew Uhan fondly remembers walking down the hill from his junior high school in Gilbert and going straight to work at his first job at the First National Bank of Gilbert.

Back then the 1999 Eveleth-Gilbert graduate did things like shredding documents.

Today, Uhan is President and CFO of one of the area’s oldest financial establishments – a family owned bank located in the heart of the Iron Range that has survived and thrived over the past 110 years by focusing on community, local relationships and customer service.

Uhan, who joined the bank board of directors in 2009 before moving back to the area in 2011 (with his wife), obtained his accounting and French degrees from St. John’s University and became a licensed CPA in 2003.

He says that having a personal connection with the community members is one key to the First National Bank of Gilbert’s ability to navigate the often fluctuating world of finance over the past few decades.

“There is nothing more rewarding than having our customers say, ‘I've been with this bank for over 50, 60 or 70 years,’” Uhan said. “Our staff takes tremendous pride in fostering customer relationships and a hands-on approach to basic banking. There's no call center or robot answering the phone. I like to say you call — we answer.”

The First National Bank of Gilbert, which opened a branch in Hoyt Lakes in 2008, is an independent bank that has served the Iron Range since 1908. The products and services offered there are designed for local customers and their needs.

Uhan said that at a time when Minnesota has lost a lot of community banks to mergers and acquisitions by large corporations or investment motives, the Gilbert bank has been able to break the mold and continue to thrive with common sense banking.

“The First National Bank of Gilbert has been family owned for over 100 years and with that, the focus is always on customer service and strong relationships,” Uhan said. “We may not have the biggest and best technology platform but being able to sit down face to face with the customer knowing a decision can be made in-house has always been our best and most important attribute.”

It is a full-service retail bank with a complete slate of customer and commercial products including checking, savings, CD and IRAs. Lending is primarily consumer based with concentrations in mortgages, auto and other consumer loans like ATVs, snowmobile and campers, to name a few, Uhan said.

There is also a full line of business loans.

The bank offers a variety of convenient banking methods, including Bank-By-Mail, 24-Hour Telephone Banking, Monday through Saturday Drive-Thru Service, and Internet Banking.

In addition, their Plus Shazam ATM and/or Debit Card provide access to accounts in all fifty states as well as many locations worldwide.

According to a mission statement of the First National Bank of Gilbert posted on the bank’s website, the goal is to provide progressive and competitive financial services to the community and to promote economic growth and stability within the community while earning a fair return.

They try to do that by providing customers with superior financial products and service; providing a healthy climate for their employees; by contributing to human resources and leadership to help the community thrive; and by operating the institution in compliance with federal and state banking laws.

The bank currently has 12 employees across two locations: 10 in Gilbert and two in Hoyt Lakes. And and while there are currently no plans for expansion, Uhan said if they see an opportunity to build relationships and enhance the customer experience, they pursue it.

“We have a very close relationship with our customers. Our staff is in tune with their banking habits and that allows for strong customer due diligence across all banking platforms,” he said.

And while they work with a wide variety of clientele, many of their customers are employed at area mines.

“A significant aspect of our customer base is mine workers and related trades,” Uhan said. “The mines and future development are paramount to our region and future success. I want to be able to pass this business on to future generations much like it's passed through the previous three family generations. We live in a special place and to be able to contribute to the economy with local solutions is very rewarding.”

The main branch is located at 2 North Broadway in Gilbert. Lobby hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drive-thru and walk-up hours are Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The bank also offers direct deposit.

The Hoyt Lake branch is located at the Hoyt Lakes Shopping Center at 207 Kennedy Memorial Drive. Lobby and drive-thru hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information see www.gilbertbank.com.

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