Meissers 'come home' to Hiawatha National
HAGER CITY -- Jim Meisser has called Wisconsin home for most of his life.
For the last few years, Meisser has worked for the Chicago field office of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and realized he needed a change.
"You can take the boy out of Wisconsin, but not Wisconsin out of the boy," his wife, Jeanene, explained.
With that in mind, Jim, who has been a banking regulator for 25 years, and Jeanene, who has worked in banks all her career, set their paths on a new horizon.
Enter Hiawatha National Bank with its locations in Hager City, Maiden Rock and Glenwood City.
"We loved the family atmosphere and thought the staff was exceptional," Jeanene said.
The two parties signed on the dotted line June 30.
Jim jokes with people that in his 25 years in the banking industry, he's never heard the word no.
That's true in a way because he's been deaf since birth, and he believes he's the first deaf bank president in the country.
His parents had lived in Cleveland, Ohio. When his mother heard Wisconsin would be the best state in terms of mainstreaming her son into the classroom, she told her husband to find a job there and he did.
"Education and mainstream were the keys to survival in the world and his mother was very instrumental in that," Jeanene said.
After he completed his education, Jim started out in the Wausau field office of the FDIC. He transferred to the Chicago office, where he met Jeanene. The two are celebrating 20 years of marriage this year.
Looking to come back to Wisconsin, the pair initially thought about starting a bank. Those plans fell by the wayside when they were told it'd be much easier to buy one.
"Everything is in place -- the real estate, the staff and infrastructure," Jeanene said.
When they toured Hiawatha National Bank, they were sold.
"We thought this would be a great acquisition," she said. "Being a smaller bank gives you more flexibility in dealing with local decision makers."
The two also appreciate HNB's longevity.
"The bank has strong ties in the community since it's been around for 91 years," Jeanene said, adding, "We want to be standing right next to staff at our 100th anniversary."
The pair said it's been a busy July, as they've been getting used to their new jobs, in meetings with clients and staff.
"We don't have any kids, so this is our baby," Jeanene said.
She will work in the Glenwood City office, while he'll split time between Hager City and Maiden Rock.
"We'd like to become the go-to bank in the community," she said. "Become more personally involved in the community and rebuild that personal aspect of a banking relationship."