Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Wave

         When most sports fans think of “the wave” they think of the synchronized action of fans that sweeps soccer, football, and baseball stadiums across the country, but a new tradition at Kinnick Stadium may very well replace what I think of when I hear the term.  At the end of the first quarter of Iowa home football games the stadium has begun waving to the children and their families on the top floor of the children’s hospital that overlooks the stadium.  I really can’t accurately describe the sensation I felt as I waved and looked up to see the kids and their families waving back.  The action itself was so simple, but it is so profound to me how at the drop of a hat my competitive spirit was wiped away.  For those few moments, the football game couldn’t have been any further from my mind.    
        The impact such a simple gesture has on the folks overlooking the stadium is what is truly amazing to me though.  The elation is so evident on the faces of these kids as they are broadcast across the video board in the stadium.  Many of these kids I’m sure are in a fight for their life, but I can tell that is the last thing on their mind during these brief moments.  I think a lot of times I feel as if there is nothing I could do to help someone that is in such dire straits, but it’s little moments like these I realize you don’t always have to do something grand to leave an impact.   
      Last Saturday as I was looking up and waving I couldn’t help but think about how blessed so many of us are to have healthy children.  As I’ve thought about it more though, I think about how little effort it really takes from us to make someone’s day during their toughest times.  As I wrap up I challenge myself to do more of these small things to brighten someone else’s day, and hopefully a few others that read this will follow as well.   

By: Drew Johnson

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Best Banks in America Case Study

How Jill Burnett and her team at Libertyville Savings Bank are redefining the game of banking... chosen as Best Place to Work three years in a row

ROXANNE EMMERICH: Jill, tell us a little bit about who you are and your bank.

JILL BURNETT: We’re about a $340 million community bank located in the southern portion of Iowa. We have five locations and are very ag oriented. I have about 50 employees—a great group of people. We’ve been blessed that our employee satisfaction rating is 6.36 out of 7 on our culture survey.

RE: Which is amazing. That’s one of the highest in the country.

JB: Yes, and run very efficiently. Our asset per employee is typically over $8 million.

RE: We’ve had a great partnership for a decade, and the transformation you’ve had is profound. I’m really interested in understanding what life was like before you started your transformation.

JB: We did not have a strong direction. We weren’t future-oriented. We weren’t looking ahead, and I would say we were transaction-based. That’s really what we were before we started working with your team.

RE: I know that choosing to work with The Emmerich Group is a big step for a lot of banks. Is there anything that caused you to hesitate before reaching out for our help?

JB: No, I can remember it vividly. The first time I saw you speak was at an Iowa Bankers convention. You had an hour presentation, and I walked out of there thinking, "I’ve got to have more of this." I came to the bank and tried to explain what I had experienced, which I probably didn’t do all that well. I grabbed two other executives and we came up to your next Profit- Growth Banking Summit seminar. After that, not only was I all-in, they were all-in, too.  

RE: I know you were over $9 million in assets per employee before you did an acquisition.
I don’t know of any bank that has a higher ratio before your acquisition than you did. What changes have you made that allow for you to be as effective as you are today?

JB: With a lot of help from your group, we’ve made some amazing changes over the last 10 years. It started with setting our service standards, then getting those rolled out and shopping them like crazy. Then we celebrated the successes on those standards. We started developing our strategic plan and got that congruent within our entire organization. It flows down to your Strategy Circles. It flows into our overall SWOT analysis, our department SWOTs, then down to each employee’s individual quarterly plan. Each employee has critical drivers tied into our overall profit strategy.
We’re using the game plan that shows all of our numbers every month. I’m reporting to those numbers to the board and to our staff so they know exactly where we are against plan. They know exactly what they’re doing to make sure that we’re getting where we need to be. To reinforce it all, it’s just constantly train, train, train, repeat, repeat, repeat, with a lot of celebration in there, too.  

RE: I was at one of your quarterly celebrations. It was wild. I saw all the employees running across the stage getting high-fived by all the executives for meeting all their "optimals" on their critical drivers. All I could think was, "Be still my heart." What’s life like now in comparison to what it was before?

JB: It’s fun. We have been blessed to be one of the top places to work for the past three years in a row in Iowa.

RE: Congratulations. That’s awesome.

JB Thank you. We hit our targets on our cross sales, our new accounts, our existing accounts. Our profitability has just continued to grow, grow, grow.

RE: Wow, 9.8 out of 10. That’s amazing. Your customers love you. That’s fantastic.

JB: Yes, so while life is really good, we also know there’s so much more to learn and to grow to keep trying to reach those goals.

RE: There’s always the next mountain isn’t there?

JB: Yes.

RE: What would you say to someone who is facing the same challenges that you were facing when you first started your transformation?

JB: Take one day at a time. Make sure your top management is completely and 100 percent in. If you don’t have that you’re not going to get there. Know who you are. I think that’s very important to know–understand your values as an organization and understand your customer’s values. I think that’s very important. Just remember you’re going to climb, climb, climb, and then you’re going to slip back a little bit, then you’re going to climb, climb, climb, and slip back. Don’t let that stop you. Just keep moving and have some fun along the way.  

RE: You do a good job of having fun. I can attest to that for sure. Thank you very much Jill, and congratulations! Who has that kind of a customer score? Who has that kind of a culture score? Who has that kind of an efficiency ratio in an ag bank in Iowa? You are redefining the game of banking, and what you are doing is legendary.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Volunteering for Hospice

In early 2016, I, along with several other LSB team members, became a Hospice Volunteer.  We completed an all day, Saturday training session, passed a background check, received our badges and were ready for service.  I can’t tell you for sure what compelled me to want to do this.  In my earlier years, it would’ve scared me to death, but it has been extremely rewarding and very instrumental in my development as a human being.

I’ve enjoyed a variety of patients from my own age to my parent’s age, both men and women and at various stages of their end of life.  I will say, that most families wait too long to get Hospice involved.  If on my first visit my patient is unable to communicate with me, I’m happy to sit with them, talk to them and I usually read to them, but that is the extent of my abilities to help or comfort.  If we can get to know each other better before they reach that stage, I feel like my visits mean more because at least they know who I am and what I am there for….to try and make something, just a small fraction of that day a little brighter. 

If you think you might be interested in becoming a Hospice Volunteer, please feel free to reach out to me or call HCI Care Services in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa at 319-385-4472 and ask for Machelle Lowe.  You’ll be glad you did.
Amber Stump McDowell

Monday, August 28, 2017

Last Field Trip for Libertyville Elementary

Wow, where did the school year go?  As we started out the school year in August of 2016 we had heard some rumbling that they were planning on closing our small, close knit school, Libertyville Elementary.  So, at the next board meeting a large group of community members and school employees gathered to learn that yes, our school was on the chopping block. 
The next few months were full of emotions and by January we learned the fate of our school, it was set to close at the end of the school year.  In the next few days I had to sit back and think how am I going to make this ok for my student as well as for the other students.  Everyone is upset, but we had to be able to move on and make it the best year ever.  So, our parent group decided we were going to take an all school field trip to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, IA.  Lots of planning and organizing had to be done and we all pulled together and got it all planned. 
The morning of the trip was still very stressful, making sure everyone was there on time, getting everyone situated for the 2-hour bus ride, just a lot of little details but we all loaded up and off we went.  We got to the zoo and the realization of how are we were going to keep 82 kids from getting lost in the zoo set in.  But thankfully for us, we had enough teachers, staff and parent volunteers that came that we could break down into very small groups and move through the zoo with ease. 
 As our time got closer to leaving the zoo I started to worry, did the kids have enough time to see everything, did they have fun, was this trip worth all the headaches it took to pull it off?  We had bought each student a goodie bag so as we left the zoo each student was handed their bag and I watched the expressions on their faces and listened to them tell their friends what they saw I realized, yes, it was worth every sleepless night and reorganization we had to do!!! 
I hope that each and every student will remember that last field trip that we got to take all together as one big family because I know I will always remember it!  Farewell to the school that I grew up in and got to share with my daughters and Hello to new adventures!
-Lisa Martin

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Addition to the Family...

No, it’s not a new grandchild yet, but if either one of our kids are reading this you know your mom likes to shop, and that would give her a valid reason that I couldn’t argue with.  You know how when you’re young and just married everyone tells you that getting a dog is good practice for when you have kids?  Well, I think there’s some truth to that.  I’ve had dogs my whole life.  From the time I could walk until now.  They’ve been some of the best companions a person could ever ask for.  Over the last 30 years I’ve been partial to German Shorthair Pointers.  I enjoy pheasant and quail hunting and these dogs have always served the need extremely well.  Not only are they excellent hunters and retrievers but they are extremely family oriented pets.  They love being part of the family.

 Last summer, “Lucy,” my 14-year-old shorthair passed away, leaving her son, “Jake,” as our only dog.  My son, Davis, had recently purchased “Bella” a 3-year-old shorthair.  He said, “Dad, why don’t we breed Bella with Jake, therefore carrying on the legacy of both Lucy and Jake.”  Sounded like a good idea to me.  Of course, I knew I would have to keep one, but had I really thought this through?
So, we penned the two dogs up for a week, played romantic music, and treated them to a couple of candlelight dinners to set the mood and it must have worked because Bella began to show signs of Jake’s handy work about 4-5 weeks later.  Off to the vet to confirm what we thought and yes, she was pregnant and expecting 8-10 puppies. (Yea!)

The puppies were born April 4th.  All 10 of them!  As usual there are generally a couple of runts in the bunch, but Davis was diligent about making sure that each puppy had its feeding time.  In the end, we ended up with 10 healthy pups and Davis was able to find great homes for all of them.  Included in that list of homes was ours.  Now it’s been awhile since we’ve had a puppy, let alone a puppy in the house.  Welcome “Boomer.”  My wife and I had been getting used to this “empty nest” thing and I’ll say, it’s all right.  Quiet time to relax.  Want to go somewhere, you just go.  Projects to do outside, you have time to get it done.  All in all, a pretty good gig.  My how things change when you bring a 10-week-old puppy into the equation. 
Now, back to my earlier comment about having a dog being good practice for kids.  The first night we had Boomer we were up about every 2 hours to let him out. Sound familiar with a newborn?  My mornings used to be a quiet cup of coffee, now it’s a cup of coffee with puppy breath and tug of war.  With just the two of us at home these days, it’s relatively easy to keep the house picked up.  Since Boomer arrived (a/k/a “the terrorist”) our house looks like a war zone.  Any shoe, sandal, piece of clothing, boot, magazine, or other physical tangible item is fair game to drag out and chew on.  

So, those of you wanting to get an idea of what it’s like having children, I’d suggest giving a puppy a try.  Obviously, it’s not exactly the same, but you get the idea.  I sure wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Oh, did I forget to mention about the potted plants??  I think the picture speaks for itself.   J

- Greg Lowenberg

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Paying at the Pump

What is the safest way to pay for fuel at the pump?  We recommend that you ALWAYS run your debit card as a “credit” when paying at the pump.  There are a couple important reasons for this recommendation.
First, when you run your debit card as a “debit” the gas station can pre-authorize $50 - $100 on your account to ensure that funds are available to pay for the fuel that you are about to pump. These pre-authorizations can be held for up to 3 business days on your account. If instead you run your debit card as a “credit” the gas station will only pre-authorize $1 on your account. 
Second, and most importantly, these machines are not monitored 24/7. If you select “debit” you are using your pin to pay at the pump. Someone could have put a skimming device or a camera on the pump which could not only obtain your debit card number, but your pin number as well. With that information, they can then create a fake duplicate card. The fake card could be used to withdraw cash at an ATM or make purchases on your account.
As always, Libertyville Savings Bank highly encourages our customers to utilize LSB Guardian debit card protection.  To sign up visit Go to the Menu drop down in the top right corner, and select LSB Guardian. From there just follow the prompts.  LSB Guardian is easy to obtain, FREE and a great source of fraud protection!

Thursday, July 6, 2017


“Your life doesn’t get better by chance; it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn
            Change is something most people fear. I, on the other hand, have always embraced change. I have always wanted to see if I could help make things better, faster, cheaper, etc.

When I was a kid, I modified my family’s golf cart to be the fastest cart on the course. Through high school, I worked for my father’s company as a surveyor. He encouraged me to find ways to work quicker and get more done. He’d always say, “You have to crack an egg to get an omelet!” Sometimes, I would find ways to get the job done faster just to go home sooner. Today, I spend my time finding or tweaking products and processes to make sure that we are meeting our company goals.
I love efficiencies. I love looking at a process and trying to figure out how we can make it better. As a person who loves change, I am often taken aback by those around me who fear or avoid it. I remember being a young 20 something kid, fresh out of school, standing in a meeting and repeatedly hearing: “well that’s how we have always done it.” That drove me crazy. One day I had more than enough and blurted out, “well, that doesn’t mean it’s right!”
Nothing good is ever easy; change isn’t always easy. You just need to take the leap and know that you are doing things for the better. Advancing a process or procedure, making someone’s life a little easier, whatever the case may be.

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end” – Robin Sharma
By: Ryan Troutman