Key American Federal Milestones
“Our Roots Run Deep and Strong in the Valley”
The rich written history of American Federal begins in the northern Red River Valley in January of 1891 when “The Building and Loan Association of East Grand Forks” was incorporated under a charter issued by the state of Minnesota. Oral history accounts report the neighborhood association was open for business as early as December of 1889 in downtown East Grand Forks on historic DeMers Avenue, a street it would call home for more than a century.
Back then, the core business of the association was limited to making loans in the city of East Grand Forks and paying interest on savings accounts.
Today, as a full-service, financially-sound community bank with 13 locations in four North Dakota and eight Minnesota communities, American Federal Ag, Business and Personal Bankers provide financial advice and business expertise to agriculture producers, business owners and consumers who value experienced, knowledgeable Bankers helping them find the best solutions to reach their goals and plan their financial future.
The Early Years: GI Loans, Home Loans
In 1933, the state-chartered association was the first financial institution in the East Grand Forks and Grand Forks area permitted to reopen its doors, following the Bank Holiday declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It made some of the first GI loans after the war and began to lend money for home construction.
Federally-Chartered Savings Bank
In 1946, the thrift purchased what was then called the old Minnesota National Bank Building at 223 DeMers Avenue and opened business on the main floor.
124 DeMers Avenue Becomes Home
Deposit and loan transactions were performed manually until 1957 when a posting machine was purchased. In 1972, a computer was installed and savings went “online” in November. Mortgages followed in June of 1974.
‘American Federal’ Name Approved
February 11, 1985, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board approved a further modification in the bank’s name and the financial institution became known as “American Federal Savings Bank.”
Sales Office Expansion Begins
In February of 1977, an office was added in Warren at 101 East Johnson, which remains its home today. In June of 1980, a banking location was opened in Fergus Falls.
Product Line Expands Further
In 1988, American Federal organized the Red River Insurance Agency subsidiary and began offering life insurance products.
March 13, 1989, American Federal cut the ribbon on a detached Drive-Up Bank at the corner of DeMers Avenue and Northwest Fourth Street in downtown East Grand Forks.
American Federal Enters Ag, Business Markets
American Federal Has Successful Stock Offering
Three years later, in August of 1994, American Federal deregistered as a public company with the Securities and Exchange Commission to become a privately-held company owned principally by its employees, along with directors and customers in the communities where American Federal has banking locations.
American Federal Investments Expands Offering
Today, American Federal Investments, Inc. (AFI) makes available a full range of life and health insurance, annuities, mutual funds and other investment products and financial planning for businesses and individuals, including group benefit and qualified plans
First North Dakota Location Opens
During the summer of 1995, American Federal began to remodel the TCF-acquired bank building at 304 North Broadway in Crookston. American Federal continued to operate from its original home, at the corner of Fifth and Broadway, until remodeling was complete on July 31 at the acquired location and it re-opened to customers.
American Federal’s original location in Crookston remained open until the fall when expansion of the drive-up at the TCF-acquired building was finished. The newly refurbished and expanded banking location at 304 North Broadway held a Grand Opening September 26-28, 1995. Improvements to the new Crookston site included redesign of the facility’s parking and landscaping of the full city block surrounding the bank building. The Crookston bank continues to operate today at the 304 North Broadway site.
January 31, 1995, American Federal entered into a definitive purchase agreement to acquire the former Metropolitan Federal Bank, fsb office located in Northwood, ND at 504 First Avenue North from the former First Bank. American Federal moved into the new location on June 24, 1995 with the final closing date taking place July 10, 1995. The Northwood acquisition became American Federal’s ninth sales office. The 504 First Avenue North location continues today as American Federal’s home in Northwood and is one of the bank’s most unique properties. Designed to resemble an Alpine chalet, the bank building is made of wood with a gently sloping roof.
New Name and Logo Design Is Trademarked
A new name and logo design, using a stylized capital letter A and red and blue colors, was trademarked.
American Federal Makes Fargo Bank Acquisition
February 13, 1996, American Federal entered into a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Northwestern Financial Corp, parent company of Northwestern Savings Bank, headquartered in Fargo. The final acquisition, on August 2, realized American Federal’s strategic objection of entering the robust and well diversified Fargo market. Its acquisition added two Fargo locations–a south Fargo bank at 1301 30th Avenue South, which had opened in October of 1994, and a downtown Fargo bank at 720 Main Avenue–plus a bank in Wahpeton, ND at 615 Second Avenue North. The Fargo South and Wahpeton locations continue as American Federal sales offices today.
New Fergus Falls Bank Building
Home Office Begins Relocation to Fargo
In November of 1996, American Federal’s goal was realized with the purchase of the former Metropolitan Federal corporate building at 215 5th Street North in downtown Fargo from the former First Bank, owner of the property. American Federal began to remodel the first floor of the eight-story, 45,000-square-foot office tower to provide a full-service, first-floor bank and to prepare the upper floors for Home Office departments.
March 17, 1997, American Federal relocated its Downtown Fargo sales office from the former Northwestern Savings building at 720 Main Avenue to the newly-acquired former Metropolitan office tower at 215 5th Street North. On April 14, 1997, the phone system was installed in the upper Home Office floors of the building.
Greater Grand Forks Flood of 1997
The devastating “500-year” flood heavily damaged the first floor of American Federal’s East Grand Forks home at 124 DeMers Avenue. By Monday, April 21, 1997, American Federal had relocated most all of its Home Office employees to Fargo and established what it thought would be temporary headquarters in its newly-acquired downtown Fargo office tower at 215 5th Street North, a move that become permanent in the wake of post-flood reconstruction in Greater Grand Forks. Today, the 215 5th Street North location services as American Federal’s Home Office and houses the Fargo Downtown bank on the first floor.
By Monday, April 28, 1997, American Federal re-opened its Grand Forks sales office and was operating from a temporary mobile trailer parked in the driveway of its downtown Drive-Up Bank in East Grand Forks. American Federal operated a full-service bank from the trailer until the second floor of its main bank in East Grand Forks was ready to open in late June. First-floor renovations continued until August when the main bank was ready for full occupancy.
The return to its long-time DeMers Avenue home was short term.
Early in 1999, the city of East Grand Forks asked to purchase American Federal’s post-flood refurbished bank building at 124 DeMers Avenue to make way for a major redesign and reconstruction project in its downtown business district, hard hit by the 1997 flood. The 124 DeMers Avenue bank site was sold, demolished by the city and converted to a paved parking lot for a new large retail store.
East Grand Forks Builds Near Gateway Drive
With the sale of its long-time home on DeMers Avenue in downtown East Grand Forks, American Federal selected a new bank site in the fast-developing northern sector of the city, near the intersection of the city’s main highways–US 10 and 220.
Construction was complete in December of 1999 on its new 8,500-square-foot home at 140 Gateway Drive Northeast in East Grand Forks. Opening of the new bank building on December 20 marked a milestone in American Federal’s long and rich history in the community and continued its tradition as the oldest continuing business in East Grand Forks.
Investment in Facilities
April 26, 2000, a pre-dawn fire destroyed the 26-year home of American Federal in Ada. By that afternoon, American Federal Bankers were taking deposits in new quarters at the north end of the block at 215 West Main Street. The new banking location was refurbished and became the bank’s new home in Ada.
With post-flood reconfiguration of the East Grand Forks downtown business district nearing completion and with the addition of American Federal’s new full-service bank on Gateway Drive, American Federal closed its stand-alone Drive-Up Bank at 321 DeMers Avenue in East Grand Forks on September 7, 2001.
American Federal Opens New Grand Forks Facility
In Warren, employees began meeting with clients in the refurbished east half of the bank’s historic building on May 25, 2007. Warren’s single-story brick building consisted of two sections built at least 110 years ago, based on old photographs of the bank. With a property easement from the City of Warren, American Federal added a remote video one-lane drive-up and expanded into the entire east half of the building which had been vacant for several decades. The historic character of the building was preserved during refurbishment and the bank’s customer service area was doubled to 3,000 square feet.
August 22, 2007, American Federal moved into a one-story, stand-alone building purchased in Ada at 201 East Main Street South. Located along Highway 9 South and built in 1979, American Federal updated the interior of the 2,760-square-foot office building, poured new concrete sidewalks and added a remote one-lane drive-up.
Tornado Hits Northwood
Fosston Opens New Bank Building
A New Century
Its entrepreneurial spirit and founding values of honesty, integrity and excellence continue to make American Federal a successful, respected financial leader and first-rate employer.
Strategic initiatives positioned American Federal for continued strong growth into the new century.
American Federal focused on in-market loan portfolio growth with clients with financially-strong balance sheets and initiated anytime, anywhere recruiting of Bankers with proven results for developing a profitable business practice and a passion to join a professional partnership and become a shareholder.
American Federal introduced a Sales Star recognition program in 1999 to recognize, reward and celebrate top sales and referral employees throughout the organization.
In 2001, American Federal introduced the Personal Profit Statement to measure individual Banker sales performance and long-term profitability and reward results with incentive compensation.
American Federal Converts to S-Corp
May 28, 2010, American Federal raised capital through the private placement of stock to existing shareholders.
American Federal’s financial stability and conservative business approach positioned the bank to thrive during the most significant recessionary period in the United States since the Great Depression, the years from 2008 to 2010.
National financial rating services, like Bankrate.com and IDC Financial Publishing, awarded American Federal its top mark of “superior” based on the bank’s financial strength and stability.
While some 300-plus U.S. banks failed during 2008-2010, American Federal recorded its best quarters of financial performance. American Federal continued to focus on its core principles, providing credit to clients within its geographic footprint and not lending based on inflated values.