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Cheryl Dehmer Celebrates 40 Years at The Bank of Elk River

Cheryl Dehmer Celebrates 40 Years at The Bank of Elk River

On February 9, 1979, Cheryl Dehmer walked into the front door of The Bank of Elk River. Now, 40 years later, she looks back on a career that has been challenging, rewarding and most of all, fulfilling.

Cheryl was a Junior in High School when a teacher approached her about participating in the Office Education Association (OEA) Program. The program included classroom instruction, competitions with other schools and working half-days during her senior year at The Bank of Elk River.

What do you remember about starting at The Bank of Elk River in High School?
What I really remember is the teacher, Mr. Hageman. I had him for a Personal Law class, but didn’t have enough business credits to participate in the OEA Program so he took his prep-hour and changed my class schedule to teach me and get the credits necessary. I was dating my (now) husband at the time and he thought working at the bank was a good idea, so I started. I worked as a teller and bookkeeper running proof, balancing and answering customer phone calls. When I graduated, the bank offered me a full-time position working as a teller/bookkeeper with Debbie Smith (also still working at The Bank of Elk River) and I’ve been here ever since!

What Bank of Elk River buildings did you work in?
I’ve worked at the 630 Main Street office my entire career.

What positions have you held here?

  • Senior Vice President & Cashier/Controller, Jan 2017 – Present
  • Vice President & Cashier/Controller, Jan 2008 – Dec 2016
  • Vice President & Cashier, Jan 2001 – Dec 2007
  • Cashier, Jan 1990 – Dec 2000
  • Operations Officer, Jan 1988 – Dec 1989
  • Head Bookkeeper, Jan 1985 – Dec 1987
  • Bookkeeper, Jan 1982 – Dec 1984
  • Teller/Bookkeeper, Feb 1979 – Dec 1981

What was it like when you first started working compared to now?
Back then, everyone wore many different hats - teller, bookkeeper and more. We had savings and checking accounts on computer at a data center but our CD’s, loans and general ledger were tracked on ledger cards where interest was calculated by hand. We used a proof machine for balancing and encoding customer transactions where checks and other documents were sorted into pockets. We would put the checks in a steel box at night and a courier would take that box to the Federal Reserve. Back then, customers had pass books for their savings accounts and they would bring them in for us to update their transactions and interest manually. Customer statements were prepared and folded by hand and cancelled checks were returned with them. Payroll was also done by hand and recorded in a ledger. We would use paper tax table books to calculate how much tax to withhold and manually write out deposit slips to employee accounts. Today’s technology has changed everything.

What were some of the initiatives you rolled out at The Bank of Elk River?
It doesn’t seem like it, but time has gone by fast. I played a role in purchasing the bank’s first ATM, fax machine and personal computers. The first PC had two floppy disk drives and used DOS commands. I rolled out our debit card program, helped transition the bank’s loans and CDs to our data center, and purchased new software to do payroll. I was expecting my first baby and had to implement the payroll software and train someone to use it before my baby arrived. In 1990, I helped seek out a banking software company to convert the bank’s data from our data center to an in-house computer. The computer conversion was scheduled around the birth of my third son. Throughout the years, I was involved with branch office expansions including getting them up and running. This meant setting up agreements with the Federal Reserve and the State of Minnesota, working with builders, purchasing furnishings and supplies and helping hire staff. I helped hire our first HR Director, was part of the Marketing Committee and oversaw Operations. I also helped roll out the bank’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) and 401K plan and have been the longest serving trustee of the ESOP Plan.

In 2006, you made a career shift into the finance area; tell me about that.
I’ve worked in many areas throughout my career including general ledger accounting, but wanted to get more involved with corporate finance. The Great Recession was a trying time for the bank and our community. Management needed to be more focused and strategic. We had to examine our balance sheet structure, downsize our number of branches, obtain core deposits vs. brokered deposits and increase our overall focus on asset-liability management. I feel like I learned more in the last ten years than the former thirty. As I look back, it was hard on all of us that lived through that time, but each one of us say we are all better bankers for going through it.

You’ve been a manager for over 34 years; what have you learned from that experience?
I’ve learned that everyone has something to contribute to the overall goals of the organization. I listen to people and hear what and how they can help the team accomplish these goals. I strive to know as much as I can about the areas I am managing so that I can be an effective resource and I always lead with a positive attitude. I’ve made a lifetime of friendships here at the bank; it’s been wonderful.

What is a fun memory from back in the day?
I liked when the bank lobby used to close at 3pm and on Friday’s when we were open later, the bank would bring in Dairy Queen treats.

What is your favorite part about working at The Bank of Elk River?
I really have appreciated working at The Bank of Elk River. When I talk with other people about their workplace experiences, it seems like we are really blessed to work here. Our culture is one where people truly love coming to work and we enjoy each other’s company. We also have a culture that respects work-life balance. I’ve had a fulfilling career with wonderful work opportunities to keep growing and succeeding.

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of contributing to a team that truly wants to help customers with their financial goals. I love helping staff further their knowledge in banking to ultimately further the bank. That makes me feel I have succeeded in my job.

What education and/or awards have you received?
I graduated from the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin and have attended several other seminars and trainings in banking throughout my career. I also was privileged to receive the Top Women in Finance Award in 2015 which recognizes the top 50 women in the state of Minnesota for their work in finance.

The Bank of Elk River Cheryl Dehmer

Quotes from Cheryl's coworkers:

John Babcock
Chairman, President, and CEO, The Bank of Elk River
Cheryl Dehmer is an invaluable resource to The Bank of Elk River. Her long history in community banking makes her the go-to person for many employees, including myself. She takes the time to break complex projects down and brings life into the balance sheet and income statement. She is an amazing person to work with and is bright, gifted, and knowledgeable.
LeRoy Lindenfelser
Chief Financial Officer, The Bank of Elk River
The Bank of Elk River would not be nearly as successful if it wasn’t for Cheryl Dehmer. The combination of her logical nature and desire to learn make her the ‘go-to’ person for many people. She gives 110% and is always willing to roll up her sleeves to complete a task. Her integrity and care for others makes her an enjoyable and fun person to work with.
Kim Carter
Director of Operations, The Bank of Elk River
I’ve worked with Cheryl for over 32 years and one of the best things I learned from her is – no matter how busy Cheryl is, she never gives you the impression that you’ve interrupted her. Her actions have really impressed me and I’ve tried to remember that whenever I’m interrupted.
Gloria Morrissette
Executive Assistant, The Bank of Elk River
Cheryl Dehmer is such a pleasure to work with as a colleague and friend. Cheryl enjoys working for and representing The Bank of Elk River and puts the bank, customers and fellow employees first. Cheryl has the ability to solve any problem that is presented to her through her vast banking knowledge and experience. She will stop whatever she is doing to assist staff with any customer or banking issue.
Lori Hagen
Retail Operations and Training Manager, The Bank of Elk River
It is a privilege to work with Cheryl. She has a wealth of banking knowledge which is readily shared with coworkers. She is a positive influence to those around her.
Chris Niskanen
Director of Information Security and Technology, The Bank of Elk River
I have worked with Cheryl for over 20 years. She is an amazing woman, friend and coworker. I am honored to have a mentor and friend like Cheryl – she has encouraged and inspired me through the years.
Debbie Smith
Consumer Lender, The Bank of Elk River
Cheryl and I started working together at The Bank of Elk River in high school and I’ve had the opportunity to see Cheryl grow within the bank. I’m so proud of her and what she’s accomplished!
Julia Schreifels
Director of Marketing, The Bank of Elk River
Cheryl Dehmer is a true inspiration. She understands the depth and breadth of how the organization runs and is always willing to lend a helping hand to whomever needs assistance. She has a ready laugh and engaging personality that inspires others. When needing in-depth analysis, Cheryl is our go-to person! She has been a treasured friend and mentor here at the bank and I really have appreciated working with her!
Sue Black
Director of Human Resources, The Bank of Elk River
Cheryl is class act extraordinaire! If every company had Cheryl Dehmers working for them, they would be full of motivated, smart and dedicated workers. We are so blessed to have her on our team!


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