One of the things customers love about our bank branches is the warm, lodge-like feel they get from our stone fireplaces and other stone décor. But it’s not just a design choice that inspires these adornments.
The late Thomas “Mickey” Snortland, a longtime majority shareholder and director of the bank, also farmed near Sharon, N.D. Before he died in early 2013, Mickey used to personally deliver rocks from his farm to the bank branches, connecting the bank with his agricultural roots.
In what we call Mickey’s Legacy Trips, employees now carry on his tradition by giving up their blazers and ties for a day to travel to Mickey’s farmland and pick rocks to be used in our branches.
“I have many wonderful memories with Mickey out on this rock pile and with the kids finding rocks to put in the bank buildings to bring a little bit of the past into the present,” remarks Julie Snortland, Mickey’s wife and a holding company director. “It’s so poignant when you think of the foundation of rocks, and we have a strong foundation at the bank. It started with the first people who invested in the bank, and Mickey’s dad, Buck, was one of those people, so this is very symbolic and special to me.”
Several employees headed to the farm on a windy October day for the latest Legacy Trip.
“Mickey’s legacy is so important to the bank, so important to the people who work there,” notes Laura Bucholz, marketing administrative assistant (and Mickey and Julie’s niece). “Anyone who knew him knew that he was such a fun character, and farming was an important part of his life. He loved bringing his rocks to the locations to be in the fireplaces. And the fact that we’re continuing to do that even after he’s passed is awesome."
The rocks are now affectionately referred to as “legacy stones” and have come to represent the bank’s strong foundation and values. It was Mickey who inspired our unique bottom line of “Happy employees! Happy customers!” He has been quoted as saying if we have happy employees, we’ll have happy customers, and the numbers will take care of themselves.
“It’s a blessing and an honor to go out and pick rocks for our bank locations in memory of Mickey Snortland,” comments Julie Peterson Klein, chief culture officer. “I believe in my heart that Buck and Mickey Snortland would be so proud.”
Arlene Francis, accounting team lead, has been with Bell for nearly 30 years and says what she remembers most about Mickey was how humble and “down to earth” he was.
“Even though we all knew he was one of the bank owners, he always made us feel like he was just one of us,” she remarks. “Mickey was a great storyteller and conversationalist, and his values and life lessons were always prevalent in my conversations with him. When I think of them, I can’t help but smile.
“I wanted to be a part of Mickey’s Legacy Trip because I knew that for the numbers of years I have worked for this company, I just had to be a part of something this important. Picking the rocks, knowing where they came from and then being able to see them in our bank locations is almost indescribable. It’s hard to put into words, but those rocks are the beginnings of the values of this organization and our leadership, and I just want people to get it.”