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Monday, May 2, 2016

Guenther begins new job

Monday, April 1, 2002

In a little more than 48 hours, managers of Major League Baseball teams will begin the season-long task of motivating and inspiring their players toward achieving the ultimate goal of reaching and winning the World Series.

For Ben Guenther, the duties of a baseball manager seem to match those of his job as new bank president like a glove.

Guenther, who served as market president at Firstar Bank in Boone for 20 years, was appointed the new division president of First Federal Savings Bank in Storm Lake earlier this month, and will be in charge of operations for the main bank in Storm Lake and six branches around the area.

Guenther, who recently moved to town with his wife, Echo, and seventh-grade daughter, Lindsay, said he is ready to put the experience he has gained by helping coach teams such as Lindsay's Boone Starzz basketball squad to good use at First Federal.

"It's amazing how similar being a coach and being a bank president really are," Guenther said. "In both instances you're trying to help people move toward a goal, and you have to be able to find different ways of motivating people toward achieving that goal. Coaching is a great analogy for what I do as a bank president, because it's the same fundamental idea. I'm trying to help and motivate everybody to do their best and give as much effort as they can."

The move from Boone to northwest Iowa also brings his career in the banking world full circle, as Guenther started out as an employee of a bank in Spencer. The opportunity to once again reside in the northwest part of the state was just one of several reasons Guenther said he decided to be a part of the team at First Federal.

"One of the biggest reasons I decided to come here was that I like the opportunities that come with living in a town this size," Guenther said. "I like the northwest Iowa area, and there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in the community in a town like Storm Lake."

Three main branches of competing banks sit a stone's throw away from First Federal's trademark white Roman pillars, but Guenther said that high level of competition was another reason he wanted to take the Storm Lake position.

"We have good, solid competition here in Storm Lake," Guenther said. "I like that, because it makes us work even harder and pushes us every day to try to raise our level of service to our customers to an even higher level than before."

Guenther, who also has two sons, Ian, an architect, and Eric, a senior at UNI, said he also views his role as one of a musical conductor, as he tries to help guide the bank employees in the band toward a crescendo of success in the future.

"Several years ago, I had an elementary school kid in my office for career day, and when he asked what I do, I said that I was just like the person who stands in front of his band at school and directs It," Guenther said. "I think he understood that, and that's what I'm here to do. I'm trying to make the band better every day I come to work."

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