Kim Settel smiles for the camera while wearing a black blazer

‘He Would Be So Proud.’

FARGO, ND – For Kim Settel, what started off as a special father-daughter bond has blossomed into an incredible career, one that has created a better way of life for both customers and colleagues.

It’s nearing the end of another busy yet rewarding week at Gate City Bank, and Kim Settel pauses for a brief moment to gaze outside of her sixth-floor office window. She’s lost in a beautiful memory, and as the afternoon sun glistens off of the downtown Fargo skyline, her beaming face becomes bathed in its warm and comforting light. There’s simply no stopping the happy tears from welling up.

“This always happens when I think about my dad,” Settel whispers bashfully as she runs her fingers over her eyes and slowly swivels her seat back toward her desk. As someone who works with numbers for a living, she has more joyful memories of her late father than she can count – but this one is extra special. And while it took place in the 1970s, it feels as if it happened yesterday.

Music to a Father’s Ears.

A peaceful smile stretches across Settel’s face as she closes her eyes and thinks back to an evening when she was 5 years old. In the memory, she’s blissfully playing on the floor of her family’s living room while her parents are watching TV. During a break in programing, Gate City Bank’s old jingle, “For a Better Way of Life,” comes on the tube and she immediately leaps to her feet and starts to dance.

Settel’s father, a “hard-and-fast Gate City advocate” with close friends at the bank’s downtown Fargo location, laughs and shakes his head as his little girl twirls around the room and sings along with the lyrics, which she has learned by heart. Neither of them want the commercial to end, but when it inevitably does, he stands up out of his chair and gestures her over. “Come on, Kimmy,” he says before she jumps up and dashes across the room. “It’s time to work on our project – and I’m going to need my helper.”

The two make their way to the garage, where a 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe and vintage kids’ pedal car are waiting with their hoods open. The agenda for the evening? Removing air bubbles from break lines – not exactly Settel’s favorite task – but worth it. Any time with her dad is time well spent, and she secretly loves the fact that he needs her help with reaching into the classic automobile’s tight spaces.

As Settel’s father sets down his toolbox and leans forward to get a closer look at the engine, he can hear her humming the Gate City song as she pretends to make repairs on her pedal car nearby. It makes him think of all the quality time they’ve spent together while making deposits in the lobby, asking for suckers at the drive-up and waving hello to the friendly faces at the front door.

He can't help but crack a grin.

A young Kim Settel sits on her vintage red pedal car, which is parked on top of a bed
When she was a young girl, Kim Settel could often be found riding around on her vintage pedal car. She also loved pretending to fix it up whenever her dad was restoring his 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe.

Saying Goodbye to a Dear Friend.

Settel will never forget one of the first phone calls she received upon joining Gate City Bank in November 2013. Her dad was on the other end of the line, and he was tickled pink at the idea that his daughter was working for the “best bank around.” He and some of his friends at the bank had been twisting her arm for years about applying for a job, and the stars had finally aligned.

“I picked up the phone and he immediately chimed in with, ‘Is this banker Kim at Gate City Bank?’ He was just so excited that I was working here,” Settel says. “I cherish that phone call to this day. It was more precious than I realized at the time.”

Settel’s father sadly passed away two weeks later on Thanksgiving. And while saying goodbye to her lifelong car-restoration partner was harder than she can possibly describe, she’s grateful. As she would later learn, those two weeks were among the happiest in her father’s life – because he knew she landed her dream job at Gate City Bank. “I never have to regret that he didn’t get to see that happen,” she says.

Also, Settel wasn’t alone. Gate City Bank team members who had grown close with her father over the years shared in her grief, offering hugs and comforting words when they were needed most. While she was new to the company, colleagues immediately treated her like family and were by her side. A few even told their favorite stories about her dad, which often involved him bringing his photo album of classic cars into the lobby for everyone to see.

From the very beginning, the Gate City Bank team not only made Settel feel at home – they helped her heal – and it meant the world.

Young Kim Settel and her parents, Jeff and Sheryl Jones, happily pose in front of their restored 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe
Settel and her parents, Jeff and Sheryl Jones, pose in front of their fully restored 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe.

A Mama Bear’s Instinct.

In the years leading up to being hired at Gate City Bank, Settel had had an interesting career journey, to say the least. From corporate takeovers to the 2008 housing crisis and everything in between, the universe threw everything but the kitchen sink her way – but it all paid off. Both team members and customers have benefited immensely from her invaluable experience.

“I’ve been truly blessed to face so many challenges that actually turned into great opportunities for growth. I definitely think there were times when my guardian angel was working overtime,” Settel says. “Anytime I can use those experiences to help the bank and those around me, it’s a win.”

While sitting on an internal panel a few years back, Settel was asked what keeps her up at night. “All of you!” she snapped, followed by a chorus of chuckles. But not because her team causes her trouble; quite the contrary. When it comes to fostering an environment of safety, support and servant leadership, Settel is constantly thinking about other people’s well-being first. As Executive Vice President of Retail Banking & Lending, she’s a self-proclaimed “mama bear” and “fixer” in both of those worlds every day.

The same goes for customers. Settel constantly goes out of her way to treat them like family and make sure their needs are met. If someone has fallen on hard times and is struggling to make loan payments, she and others are there to offer options and empathy. If an individual has questions about things like overdraft protection and fraud tracking, the bank wants to help provide education. Heck, if a customer’s car is broken down in the drive-up lane, Settel's team wants to zip on over and pop open the hood.

As a toddler, Kim Settel pretends to work on the engine of her father’s 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe
From the time she was a toddler, Settel loved working on the family’s classic Ford with her father. He often relied on her for help with reaching tight spaces.

Culture Worth Clinging to.

Settel’s absolute favorite part of the job is when she gets to give credit where it’s due. (Pun intended!) For her, team member milestone celebrations are especially rewarding. She adds a unique twist to these heartwarming occasions by tracking down fun factoids about those being honored, then using those tidbits to highlight what makes everyone special. She even reads off supportive quotes submitted by their peers. She absolutely loves recognizing others – because it helps build an incredible culture.

“Team members tend to stay with Gate City Bank for a long time, and I’m convinced it’s because of our amazing culture,” she says. “We’re also encouraged to pursue our passions in a way that creates a better way of life for those around us. That’s something that really stands out and makes me feel at home here.”

For example, when fellow bank leaders caught wind that Settel comes from a military family and has a heart for supporting service members, they offered her the opportunity to serve on Gate City Bank’s Military Support Committee. They’ve also granted her paid volunteer time to serve on similar committees for a local museum and the chamber of commerce. The bank has even sponsored military events that are near and dear to her heart. The support she’s experienced has been profound.

“Gate City Bank definitely walks the walk when it comes to supporting customers, communities and team members. It’s about so much more than just throwing out buzzwords and not having anything to show for it,” Settel says. “The bank leads by example in meaningful and heartfelt ways, while also providing amazing workforce benefits. The leadership team even takes turns leading an opening prayer during board meetings. What company does that? It’s a truly wonderful culture to be a part of.”

Excitement for the Road Ahead.

Settel occasionally has to stop and remind herself that she’s living her dream job, and it’s largely thanks to her dad. He believed in her all those years ago, when it was just the two of them working on a classic car in their family’s garage, and he still inspires her to this day. As she continues on the journey ahead, he lives on in her heart.

“I feel so blessed that some of those who knew my dad from back in the day still are associated with the bank," she says. "Their beautiful stories help keep his memory alive, and they all tell me the same thing – ‘He would be so proud of you.’ It means the world to me.”

Meet More of Our Team Members!

Lezan Tahir smiles in a shirt and tie from Gate City Bank’s location in downtown Fargo, ND

Lezan Tahir

When Lezan Tahir’s parents sacrificed everything to achieve American citizenship, it led to a better way of life than they could have ever dreamed.

Joe Hanstad smiles at the camera while wearing a professional business

Joe Hanstad

Through his love for basketball, learn how Joe Hanstad has become exceptionally good at drafting strategies that help grow his customers’ wealth.

Elizabeth Radil smiles in a professional headshot featuring her in a first responder uniform

Elizabeth Radil

Like a moth to the flame, Elizabeth Radil was naturally drawn to the role of personal lender – and volunteer firefighter.

Darlene Risch smiling headshot

Darlene Risch

Experiencing the evolution of banking firsthand throughout the past 50 years has given Darlene Risch a unique perspective. Read more!