BankCherokee Senior Vice President Andy Gesell
Not every child of a small business owner follows in his or her parent’s footsteps. In fact, statistics show that most don’t. But Andy Gesell, a third generation banker at BankCherokee, developed an interest in the family business at a young age. He’d accompany his dad to work at the bank often, and do whatever odd jobs he was assigned.
A few years later, after earning a degree in economics at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Gesell officially joined the BankCherokee team. As senior vice president of the bank today, he can’t imagine his career going any other way. And while he has a penchant for numbers, it is the people part of the business that Gesell finds most rewarding. “I take pride in being a community banker,” he said. “Building relationships with clients, and working with them to reach their goals—it is what motivates me every day.”
One of Gesell’s areas of specialty is helping customers finance equipment and vehicles for small businesses. BankCherokee provides loans to replace existing equipment, and for new equipment that will help the company grow. While BankCherokee’s average equipment loan is around $250,000, the amount varies depending on the needs of the business. For example, a large manufacturing company might seek $1 million for new equipment, while a physician, dentist or attorney in private practice may need something closer to $25,000. “As a family-owned, community-based bank, BankCherokee is in a unique position to help businesses of every type and size,” Gesell said.
According to Gesell, there are some things small business owners can do to improve their loan readiness: “We look to partner with businesses that have up-to-date financials, who are able to cash flow, and who can demonstrate how the loan will help them in the long run, to save money or to grow.” BankCherokee also works with its existing customers on maintaining updated financials, to ensure they are in a good position to secure funding should a business need arise. “We make it easy for our current clients by offering an annual review of their financials, which allows us to pre-qualify them for future funding,” he said.
It is one of BankCherokee’s primary goals to make banking as uncomplicated as possible for customers. The bank recently launched an all-new website with simple and secure tools for addressing a variety of banking needs. Gesell is excited about continuing to maximize the bank’s technology to provide better experiences for customers. “We no longer just think about our brick and mortar locations when we consider customer service,” Gesell explained. “More and more of our customers are interacting with us online, and not just to check account balances.”
When Gesell contemplates the future of BankCherokee, he knows technology is just one part of the bank’s continued growth and success. He also believes strongly in the organization’s next generation of leaders. “They are the innovators,” he said. “Thinking about banking in different ways and bringing new ideas to the table.” Those future leaders may even include Gesell’s son Ryan, a fourth generation banker with five years under his belt at BankCherokee. “I don’t know that he’ll continue to follow in my footsteps,” Gesell said. “But I’d be proud if he did.”