Rocky Mountain Bank has locations stretching from Bozeman to the eastern corners of Plentywood. While Rocky Mountain prides itself in helping all of its customers, the bank is known for one particular focus: manufacturing. Scott Sehnert, the market president of Rocky Mountain, said aiding manufacturers is a point of pride for the Montana bank.
“What makes economies churn?,” he said. “If you look back over time, manufacturing has been one of — if not the key economic driver to drive every community. There are other industries such as ag and tourism, but if you look at it from a global viewpoint, manufacturing offers well-paying jobs, enhancing the middle class, home ownership and disposable income. Manufacturing has always been there with those well-paying jobs.”
At Rocky Mountain Bank, Sehnert heads up the manufacturing division. In this role, he travels the state and meets with various manufacturers to discuss their needs. He also serves on the Montana Manufacturing Association Board of Directors.
A History of Manufacturing
Sehnert has a long history with manufacturing.
During one point, Sehnert jumped out of banking and worked for a value-added manufacturer. As a senior project manager and CFO, Sehnert worked on the financial and operational side of the company. He said this experience helped him understand what it’s like being on the other side of the table.
As a banker, Sehnert has a portfolio stocked full of unique manufacturing experiences. He’s worked with value-added food manufacturers, heavy equipment manufacturing, agriculture products such as horse trailers and even an ice cream cone commercial bakery. In Iowa, Sehnert’s bank worked with Gateway, a computer company that is now part of Acer, to get off the ground.
Sehnert is also one of a few bankers in Montana who is an SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) Lean Bronze Certified banker.
“The bottom line is, manufacturing is fun,” he said. “It’s really cool to go out and call on these manufacturers and go out and see all the different things that are being made in Montana. Just last Friday I toured a meat processing facility and turned right around and went and toured (Montana Chamber of Commerce member) Wood’s Powr-Grip that manufacturers tooling to move large panes of glass. It’s a lot of fun just going around and meeting all of the owners of these manufacturers and seeing all the different things going on in Montana.”
Another voice supporting Rocky Mountain’s manufacturing endeavors is the bank’s new President/CEO, Kevin Tepas. Tepas joined Rocky Mountain in January 2018
from the Wisconsin Bank & Trust. Sehnert said it was a big change, but also a good one.
“The Wisconsin bank is also very focused on manufacturing,” he said. “Kevin brought along with him a good, strong manufacturing banking background. We’ve just really continued into focusing our efforts on the manufacturing sector here in Montana.”
Manufacturing in Montana
In Montana, manufacturing is one of the state’s fastest growing sectors. According to the 2018 State of Montana Manufacturing report from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, between 2010-17 Montana saw an increase of 21 percent in manufacturing job growth. During this same period nationwide, there was only an increase of 8 percent.
Rocky Mountain is a Montana chartered state bank that has 9 independent branches across the state. It has about $500 million in total assets in Montana. The bank is wholly owned by Heartland Financial out of Dubuque, Iowa, which has total assets around 12 billion dollars.
“As our chairman Butch Fuller puts it, ‘We offer the small bank touch with the big bank punch,’” Sehnert said. “All our decision makers are in Montana. However, we have the products and services to offer our clients that any large regional or national bank would have to offer. It gives us the ability to really do or serve any business of any size in the state of Montana.”