Star Bank: A family-owned independent community bank that puts client relationships first

Historic Roots

The history of Star Bank goes back over 100 years to 1904 when a national bank was chartered under the name of The First National Bank of Bertha, in Bertha, Minnesota. For the next 80 years, it operated as a single location bank, until 1984 when The First National Bank of Verndale (Minnesota) was purchased and merged into this charter as a branch office. The two offices operated as First National Bank of Bertha-Verndale until March 2000.

In March 1990, Harry Wahlquist formed a holding company now known as Midwest Bancorporation and purchased the Bertha-Verndale bank. Since that time, the organization we know as Star Bank has grown from two offices to 10 offices, and over $240M in assets. Star Bank acquired the Maple Lake office of the First National Bank of Elk River in July 2012 and the bank’s official State of Minnesota Charter is now located in Maple Lake.

Family-Owned & Managed

The Wahlquist’s have been seasonal residents of Annandale and South Haven for 65 years, having spent many years on Bass Lake before relocating to Lake Sylvia. Harry Wahlquist says, “I grew up in this community as a young boy and have enjoyed building long-term relationships with local families and businesses over the years. The Heart of The Lakes is a beautiful area of our state and we are at home here.” Wahlquist continues, “We are proud of the heritage of Star Bank, and appreciate the thousands of wonderful relationships that have been established in Maple Lake and Annandale. I am thankful for the trust that our clients have in us as community bankers.”

Star Bank has remained independent and family-owned during times when other community banks have struggled due to increased banking regulation. Three members of the Wahlquist family are directly involved in senior management. Harry Wahlquist leads the charge as President/CEO and Chairman of the Board. Harry’s son, Andy Wahlquist, is Vice President, responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the bank’s two offices in Wright County. Katie (Wahlquist) Incantalupo is Vice President, overseeing marketing and human resources for the organization. Harry and Mabs Wahlquist have two other sons, Kip and Charlie, who are involved in Star Bank on a consultative basis.

Agility & Customer Service

Craig Manz and Julie Hudek are in the lending department at the Maple Lake office. Manz says that he enjoys working at Star Bank and appreciates how loan decisions are made right at the table. Manz states that the bank’s size “…enables us to get things done in an efficient way for the customer, and that is something that makes community banks so great, from a service standpoint.” Hudek agrees and says that the conversations they have with customers always start with their needs and wants, first.

Community Commitment

One of Star Bank’s Core Values is about commitment to the local community. Andy Wahlquist describes how much the staff likes to participate in events that help make Wright County a great place to live and work. “We often say how committed we are to our local communities, and we really mean it. Locally, we participate in the annual Gear-Head Get Together, the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, area baseball tournaments, the annual Teacher’s Breakfast, and so much more. Our whole team is committed to helping to make the community a great place to live and work,” says Wahlquist.

Star Bank customers are seeing and feeling the positive difference that the bank makes in the community. Renowned Minnesota outdoorsman and Hall of Fame Broadcaster, Ron Schara, is an example. He filmed a television commercial for the bank at the Maple Lake location in 2015. During that process, Schara told Katie (Wahlquist) Incantalupo that he was impressed to learn how much Star Bank gives back to the local community. He said, “Community banks are the heartbeat of our local economy. I am thankful that Ron Schara Productions has Star Bank in our corner.”