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Tought Times Don't Last... Tough People Do!

Kyle Campbell - Wednesday, January 30, 2013

That’s the way the saying goes. And here at Astra Bank, we can tell you that it is true. We continue to share with you the insights and interesting stories we gathered from our Chairman, Richard Campbell a few days ago.

We asked Richard about some of the challenging times for the banking industry and how Astra Bank coped with those challenges. He recalled one of the toughest times during the 80’s when many banks failed very badly and were not able to bounce back. Astra Bank on the other hand, not only survived but managed to come out in very good shape. Rather than adopt an aggressive approach like some of the other “out on the edge” banks, Astra followed a conservative lending philosophy. Being an Ag bank (serving the agricultural sector primarily), Astra pulled comfortably through even the agricultural or what is known as the farm crisis of the 80’s. Farm debts from the 70’s had accumulated to enormous proportions and were battling the unfavorable economic climate of the 80’s. Interest rates were extremely high and many farmers who had been profitable until now had to fold their farms and move out looking for jobs. Even their agricultural land was not selling at good prices. The overall market sentiment was one of doom and gloom all around. Astra Bank too, like many other banks had its share of customers who did not quite make it through this tough period.

The bank officials played an advisory role helping customers make the right decisions whether it was about cashing out and liquidating to pursue a different career or suggesting other ways to maintain their net worth. Some customers, of course, were not happy at the time to be given forthright advice on what they should do, but the same people today are still banking with Astra and are very satisfied customers because they received valuable, timely advice from their community bank.

The philosophy of the bank, even today, so many years after the 80’s crisis is to look for ways to work with customers for the long-term. When customers are successful, the bank will be successful. “We never look at things from a short-term perspective”, says Richard. “In fact,” he adds, “I always tell our customers—the only thing I like better than us making money is you making money.”

Well said Richard! It motivates the rest of us at Astra Bank to always look for ways to help our customers make more money, save more money, and be successful today and into the future.

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