Kindness, Creativity Are Common Threads for Gate City Bank Senior Mortgage Loan Officer Leona Hurlbut
Leona Hurlbut has a hobby that will leave anyone feeling warm and fuzzy. She spends her free time crocheting stuffed animals and blankets for expecting mothers. Each creation is wonderfully unique – similar to her approach in helping Gate City Bank customers.
Hurlbut’s caring and creative spirit is delightfully apparent to those she meets. During her time at Gate City Bank, her handiwork in both the community and bank location has made a true difference. Whether it’s weaving a beautiful design for an excited mother-to-be or stitching together a custom first-time homeowner plan for an eager young couple, she finds joy in creating a better way of life.
“I just love finding fun ways to help others,” says Hurlbut, Senior Mortgage Loan Officer in Alexandria, MN. “Being able to support the community with what I’m passionate about means everything.”
Hurlbut’s interest in crocheting stems back to childhood when her grandma first taught her the skill. It helped spark her interest in arts and style, and she eventually found her way to Alexandria Technical & Community College to study fashion management.
Originally from Miller, SD, Hurlbut’s plan was never to stay in Alexandria long term, but she quickly fell in love with the community – as well as her future husband who grew up there – and gladly chose to call it home. Little did Hurlbut know that along the way she would discover a whole new passion: finance.
Fashion management studies quickly opened Hurlbut up to the world of business management, and with her longtime aptitude for math, she eventually found herself studying finance and credit management.
It was a perfect fit. In no time, Hurlbut earned her degree and landed a job at a local bank, spending the next three years gaining experience by serving in multiple roles. She worked with everything from deposits to personal loans and mortgages.
“It was a great leap into the banking world,” Hurlbut says. “But something was missing. I really wanted to get out and help the community more.”
Hurlbut had always heard that Gate City Bank gives back to its communities in amazing ways, so when a new position opened up locally, she took her shot to be part of an amazing workplace culture. She nailed the interview, and the rest is history.
One of the things Hurlbut appreciates most about Gate City Bank is the genuine kindness shared by team members across the organization.
“We help a lot of people in our communities,” she says, adding that Gate City Bank makes it easy to give back to causes team members care about.
One of the many examples she has is when Gate City Bank stepped up to help a local family who had lost almost everything they owned in a house fire. Team members volunteered time, funds and resources to show the family support.
That same level of kindness extends to the work culture at Gate City Bank, and Hurlbut quickly learned that it’s the perfect place to grow any skillset. She’s had access to amazing mentors and learning opportunities, and has enjoyed being able to ask questions at any time.
“Everyone at Gate City Bank is so willing to help you succeed,” Hurlbut says. “Plus, the benefits here are amazing.”
For example, Hurlbut has had two children while working for Gate City Bank. While she was out on three months of paid maternity leave each time, she didn’t have to worry about a thing. Her work was covered, and her colleagues were incredibly supportive of her exciting news.
While working at Gate City Bank, Hurlbut has gained a reputation for always being available and willing to assist anyone who reaches out to her. She empathizes with people, no matter what season of life they’re in.
“Not everyone has knowledge in all areas of lending. It can be confusing,” she says. “Since I’m fortunate enough to have worked in many of those areas, I care about being there to help answer people’s questions, even if they’re not current Gate City Bank customers.”
This was especially true throughout the housing craze of 2021, when countless home-seekers approached Hurlbut, desperately trying to navigate a competitive real estate market. Record-low interest rates sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic meant a spike in mortgage activity, and she watched many homes sell in under a day. In fact, she and her husband received seven offers when they sold their own home.
“It was an insane time,” Hurlbut says. “It was such a seller’s market with very few houses for sale, but it’s really exciting when people finally do find the home they’ve been looking for.”
Every day is different for Hurlbut, which is one of many reasons why she loves her job. What she enjoys most, however, is the opportunity to help customers, her community and fellow team members.
“I love my job so much,” she says. “I only wish I could have found it sooner.”
Our own Phil Swan has an amazing story to tell! He’s a former police officer who has served as fraud manager at the bank since 2018, helping to protect customers from security threats, scams and identity theft.
Meet Darryl Jorgenson! If there’s anyone who fully appreciates what it means to take a leap of faith, it’s him. From leaving a successful former life for something better to helping customers with PPP loans during the pandemic, he’s discovered a knack for adventure – and found an amazing work family along the way.
Meet Sue Anderson! When it comes to helping customers navigate life’s financial setbacks – especially the COVID-19 pandemic – she and her team have offered hope and healing to those who need it most.
Years ago, Lisa Balzer had to leave her Gate City Bank family to help relatives experiencing health challenges. Little did she know, her bank story was far from over, and the old part-time role she missed would blossom into a full-time career.