Bremer Bank commemorates 100 years of service

Bremer Bank invites the community to join in centennial celebration Thursday

Historical artifacts like this automatic cashier will be on display during Bremer Bank's 100th anniversary celebration on Thursday.
Historical artifacts like this automatic cashier will be on display during Bremer Bank’s 100th anniversary celebration on Thursday. (Melissa Priebe/Carver County News)

By Melissa Priebe
watertown.editor@ecm-inc.com

An institution that has been part of Watertown since 1916, Bremer Bank will celebrate its 100th anniversary in August.

“According to the FDIC, the original charter was August 31, 1916,” said Sue Burke, market manager for Bremer. She said the bank got its start under a different name, opening in Watertown as First American State Bank in 1916, then that bank came under the Bremer brand.

“Otto Bremer is our original founder,” said Burke. “He began in 1919 as a minority shareholder, and he gained the majority interest in 1933.”

Bremer came to Minnesota as a German immigrant in 1886, chasing the American Dream. He became a bookkeeper for the National German Bank, and over the next 36 years, he worked his way up to become the chairman of the American National Bank, as well as a community leader. One of the largest investors in bank stocks in the midwest, Bremer put many of his investments in “countryside banks,” making a commitment to the banks and the communities surrounding them.

“Otto would go and help the country banks,” said Burke.

In 1943, he created a bank holding company to give the banks an advantage as a group, even after his death. In 1944, he created the Otto Bremer Trust, which provides grants to meet needs of communities in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Today, Bremer Bank is a full-service financial institution, providing mortgage services, investment services, full retail and business services, trusts and insurance.

“The bank has over $10 billion in assets, but we’re still able to provide great services to the community,” said Burke. She said the bank is ‘big enough’ to help a wide range of clients, but ‘small enough’ to stay customer-focused.

On top of providing services to Watertown, Burke said the bank has provided many local residents with a great place to work. The company is 8 percent employee owned, and employees at the bank have a tendency to work there for a long time.

“In Watertown, as an example, two of the bankers have been here for over 35 years,” said Burke.

To commemorate 100 years of banking, the staff has put some artifacts out on display. Inside the bank, visitors can see relics from years gone by, including coin dispensers, old teller machines and a burglar alarm, which was used in the last century.

Bremer Bank in Watertown celebrates 100 years of service in August. (Melissa Priebe/Carver County News)
Bremer Bank in Watertown celebrates 100 years of service in August. (Melissa Priebe/Carver County News)

On Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, there will be an official proclamation declaring the day Bremer Bank Day in Watertown.

“We’re proud to celebrate our 100th year anniversary, but we’re focused on continuing to deliver exceptional customer service into the future,” said Burke.

The company will hold a community celebration at Bremer Bank from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 25. There will be a pulled pork BBQ, as well as prize giveaways, and local musicians from Watertown will provide entertainment.

Bremer Bank has also invited some of its long-standing and retired employees, including former presidents, to join the festivities.

Among them will be Beery, of Northfield, who served as president of the bank from 1955 to 1962, a man who will turn 101 years old next month.

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