DICKINSON, ND – Whether it’s on the basketball court or in his Gate City office, when it comes to setting up a successful strategy, everyone knows – Joe Hanstad’s got game.
Some of Joe Hanstad’s best childhood memories involve shooting hoops in the driveway of his family’s home in Dickinson. Night after night, his mom would scurry to the front door and holler that supper was getting cold, and he’d always beg her to let him score just one more bank shot against the plywood backboard his dad had hoisted above the family’s garage.
Both parents would eventually accept that their son wouldn’t be back inside anytime soon. They’d simply smile, shake their heads, flip on the floodlight and let him play. After all, Hanstad’s father had rigged the makeshift rim for a reason – he lived and breathed the game, too – and he was secretly thrilled that his son had found his niche in the net. This wasn’t just basketball; this was life.
From the moment Hanstad sunk his first shot, everyone in the neighborhood could tell there was something special about this smalltown kid from western North Dakota. They somehow knew he was born to be a baller.
And they were on to something.
It was spring 2015, and outside his window, Hanstad could hear the buzz of the Boise State University campus as excited students prepared for the summer break ahead. He kicked back onto his couch and picked up a nearby basketball from the floor. As he began to toss it up and down toward the ceiling, a smile stretched across his face – the future was looking bright.
Hanstad would be marrying the girl of his dreams in just a few short months, classes were wrapping up following a grueling final semester and after earning a full ride on a prestigious athletic scholarship, his team had made it to two NCAA tournaments during his four-year tenure. Not to mention, he had just wrapped up the internship of a lifetime. That’s a funny story, actually, one that began back in 2012.
In addition to basketball, Hanstad has always been exceptionally good with numbers. For most of his life, he knew that he wanted to pursue a finance career of some sort, but he had no idea what that would look like or where it would take him. His college courses had been enjoyable thus far, and he figured an internship was the best next step. He put out his feelers to all corners of the country, and it paid off.
“A renowned financial pro saw that, like himself, I had played basketball for the university and was interested in finances. He also noticed I was from North Dakota – and my family had pheasant hunting land,” Hanstad says with his signature hardy laugh. “He was like, ‘Hey, maybe we can make a deal. You can intern with me if I can come hunt.’ I knew he was joking, but I liked this guy. I invited him anyway.”
All kidding aside, this gentleman was quite impressed with his new intern, whom he took under his wing for three years. He noticed a peculiar phenomenon right away, something extra special he hadn’t seen in many other mentees: Hanstad constantly asked for more work. Impressed, the mentor found himself handing off the ball and entrusting the undergrad with huge projects that helped people grow wealth.
Fast-forward the clock to 2015 again, shortly after Hanstad had graduated from college and blasted out his resume. He received a call from an unknown number originating from the 58601 zip code. Little did he know, the future he had been so blissfully anticipating was reaching out – from his home town.
Like many people who leave home for college, Hanstad never had plans to move back. Sure, he loved returning to Dickinson from time to time to visit friends and family, but there was a great big world beyond that area and the surrounding Badlands. He wanted to see what it had to offer.
It wasn’t until Hanstad met the love of his life that he realized she was his whole world. After he married Danielle, it didn’t take long for the two of them to discuss their hopes of starting a family. All of a sudden, living in a small town started to sound kind of nice. And as fate would have it, that’s around the time he received the call from Gate City in Dickinson.
“I got to talking with the hiring manager, who I knew a little bit from growing up here,” Hanstad says. “He was a big sports guy, too, and we just chatted. It was a really great conversation, and I felt so welcomed from the start. This place seemed great.”
The supervisor went on to say that he thought Hanstad would be a perfect fit, not only in terms of his expertise, but with the local team, which had always been very tight-knit. Eight years later, Hanstad can’t imagine working with a more wonderful group. Plus, he’s been able to work his way up from an entry-level job to a vice president position, and for good reason – he kept asking for the ball.
“I always want to help people – especially customers – in any way I can. I care about earning their trust, and that starts with being proactive and showing initiative,” Hanstad says. “It also helps when you can approach things differently, in a fresh new way that people can understand and relate to.”
Indeed, Hanstad’s method to money may be slightly unorthodox – but it works.
On any given day, Hanstad can be found hunched over his desk, energetically scribbling to and fro on a sheet of paper while a customer watches closely and nods intently on his opposite side. It’s a friendly game of one-on-one, a basketball-play analogy that’s meant to create a helpful financial plan. Arrows stretch out to different parts of the page, indicating the various destinations funds can be allocated to.
The approach is simple: Hanstad shares his initial thoughts, then the ball’s in their court in terms of how they want to move forward in their financial journey. Regardless, he’s there to support them throughout. “They know I’m a true basketball nut, but we make it fun. People say to me all the time, ‘I’ve never had it explained to me like that before, and now I understand it better.’ That’s always such a fun win to get.”
Given the nature of his job, Hanstad often works with customers who suddenly come into a great deal of money, then want to know what options they have in terms of managing it. Like a driven point guard, he hits the ground running during their first meeting, sketching out potential pain points and opportunities, all while answering questions. He wants everyone he assists to know he’s on their team.
“Gate City has been around for so long and built an incredible reputation in Dickinson and beyond. So when people walk through the door, their guard is often already down because they know we’re going to take care of them,” Hanstad says. “I feel thankful for the opportunity to help grow that mindset, bringing full-court service, simplicity and customization you can’t find anywhere else.”
Hanstad also appreciates the chance to live in a wonderful community. He’s always felt incredible love and support from the people of Dickinson, and when they presented him with a surprise honor in 2023 – it threw him through a loop in the best possible way.
Along with his collegiate and professional resumes, Hanstad has quite an impressive track record for high school, as well. As a sophomore, he was named North Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year, then broke Dickinson’s 45-year scoring record as a junior. And prior to graduating, he made all-state three years in a row, while also becoming Senior Player of the Year and Class A Outstanding Senior Athlete of the Year.
Needless to say, Hanstad has some bragging rights. But he doesn’t like to go there – it’s always been about his love for the game. “Basketball brings me joy,” he says. “It teaches you that you can do hard things. Whether it’s business, sports, your marriage, raising kids – anything. You can always put in more effort than what your mind is telling you. I’m reminded of that every day at Gate City.”
So in summer 2023, when Hanstad learned he was going to be inducted into the Dickinson High School Athletic Hall of Fame, he was a little bashful – but unbelievably honored. “At first, it made me feel old,” he jokes. “But seriously, it’s really cool. There have been a ton of amazing athletes who have come out of Dickinson High, and to have my name listed next to theirs is an absolute privilege.”
In light of this exciting news, Hanstad has also received amazing support from his fellow team members. It’s a sense of camaraderie that can be found companywide. “A lot of companies talk about taking care of your mental health and enjoying a great culture,” Hanstad says. “Gate City truly lives that out.”
At the end of the day, in addition to the love shown for team members, Hanstad marvels at how Gate City stays committed when it comes to fostering community support. Team members are encouraged to give back an unlimited amount on company time – a game strategy he never saw coming. However, it’s a slam dunk.
“If my kids have a school fundraiser during the day, I get to be there – no questions asked. If my church needs assistance, I can get away to help,” he says. “That’s worth everything to me.”
It’s safe to say that Hanstad is all in when it comes to his career at Gate City. It’s almost as if he’s been training for this opportunity his entire life. But the best is most certainly yet to come.
Just hand him the ball and see what happens.
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