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It's official and a good fit, too. The Courier-Sentinel Staff Writer, May 3, 2012.

Although it wasn't a surprise - the merger of the former State Bank of Bricelyn with Farmers Trust and Savings Bank of Buffalo Center, Iowa was announced last December - it was still big news Tuesday when the Bricelyn Branch of Farmers Trust and Savings opened its doors under new ownership.

And decision-makers on both sides of the aisle unanimously agreed that the change is a "good fit" for everyone involved.

"We're very excited to be here," bank president Brian Vander Wilt said Tuesday while doling out coffee, cookies and hearty handshakes in the Bricelyn bank lobby.  "Dave (Flo, former owner) and his team ran a great bank here for the past 100 years and we hope to continue that tradition - we hope to provide excellent service for everyone."

"It is a nice fit," added Doug Leland, a bank vice-president in Bricelyn who's retaining that title with the new bank and will remain in Bricelyn to serve clients here.  "We're both ag banks and we'll continue to assist area farmers in the very best manner we possibly can.  We'll also now have more funds to help them as they continue to increase in size and need."

The lending limit at the State Bank of Bricelyn was $500,000, according to Leland.  At the Bricelyn Branch of Farmers Trust and Savings Bank, that figure grows to $3 million.

In the coming months, the merger will be celebrated with an official grand opening party.  Bank patrons will also enjoy a variety of new services, including online and mobile banking.

Farmers Trust and Savings Bank was founded in 1914 and has assets over $180 million.  It also has branches in Lakota, Britt and Lake Mills, Iowa.  It is one of only a handful of employee-owned banks in the state of Iowa - a rarity according to Vender Wilt. Their approximatley 45 employees own 85% of the bank's assets and they're a most valuable piece of the bank's formula for success.

Vander Wilt is no stranger to small-town banking - he grew up in Sheldon, Iowa, granduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa and worked in banking in Waterloo before coming to Buffalo Center 32 years ago.  He and his wife are the parents fo two adult daughters.  He enjoys golfing, the Iowa Hawkeyes and visiting their daughters who live in Des Moines, Iowa and Kansas City.
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