Chairman of Kirkpatrick Bank, Christian Keesee, reflects on the history of the bank in Colorado on the eve of its 50th anniversary.
John L. Belt, a long-time advisor and friend to both my Grandad and to me, introduced me to the concept that between one’s personal and business life there is no beginning and no end. And, indeed that concept in action is what sparked my interest in banking in Colorado as a very young boy. At the time, my Granddad served on the board of Otero Savings and Loan in Colorado. I recall he would come home from Board meetings with papers and annual reports. Two things captured my attention: board meetings were opportunities for us to spend time at our Colorado home and the bank had a significant art collection, which it featured in the annual reports.
Eventually, Grandad went off that board and those of several other banks to focus on Liberty Bank. I had always had a keen interest in banking, but that experience stayed with me, directing my interest in establishing a Colorado business presence. In 1988, I acquired the majority interest of a bank in Oklahoma, originally named American Bank & Trust. I pursued the acquisition of another small bank and a mortgage company shortly thereafter to solidify our market presence. At the same time, I encouraged then President, John Goad, to look for an opportunity to establish a banking presence in Colorado Springs. We began with a loan production office, led by Jay Morey. He had a relationship with a well-respected finance leader, Norm Peterson. As it happened, Norm’s company, Intermountain Mortgage, approached us for a line of credit. Norm and I soon established a professional and a personal relationship. He encouraged my vision of opening a bank in Colorado.
With no reciprocal branching, the only way to establish a bank was through an acquisition of some kind. We purchased a charter from a defunct bank and invested in Norm’s business to form Intermountain Bank in Colorado Springs in 2001 with Norm at the head. This perfect blend of business and personal relationship continues to this day. We celebrate birthdays and special events and are mutually supportive of each other’s philanthropic passions.
Kirkpatrick Bank in Colorado – Community Interests
Once the bank was up and running in Colorado Springs, we felt the next opportunity might be Castle Rock. We put a toe in the water, but it was not the right fit for us. Norm Peterson retired, and in 2012 we invested in new leadership and experienced banking professionals, adding treasury management and wealth advisory services as well as creating an Advisory Board of leading citizens.
On the personal side, my Grandad and Great-Grandfather had significant history with the Pikes Peak Region, which is reflected in the philanthropic activities of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, supporting some of the area’s largest arts organizations and the Humane Society of the Pike’s Peak Region. Yet in our little hamlet of Green Mountain Falls, there wasn’t much available to enliven our time there. As the Bank began to take off appreciably and we spent more time there, we decided to just try something. Larry Keigwin, founder of New York’s Keigwin + Company, would bring his dance company during the summer. My son Blake, Larry and I decided to put on a sort of family talent show. The dance company participated, Blake, his tutor and members of the household staff all contributed. We put on our little show in the community room of the church. And, people came!
We decided to up the ante and develop an arts festival. Blake and Marcos Barbery came up with the name and now, going into our 12th year, the GreenBox Arts Festival has grown in many ways, including its economic and cultural benefits to our beloved community. In 2009, Kirkpatrick Bank became a sponsor and soon the word spread through Colorado Springs.
In 2015, Kirkpatrick Bank moved to a new location in downtown Colorado Springs, complete with a drive up window and commercial dropbox. Of course, it needed new art! We launched a special exhibit opening at the bank in 2017 as an unofficial preview of that year’s GreenBox Arts Festival. It was so warmly received, that the following year we made the art opening an official annual part of the Festival.
Kirkpatrick Bank In Colorado Now
Kirkpatrick Bank has been in Colorado officially for 20 of our 50 years. Of course, the Kirkpatrick family has been in Colorado for five generations, with our Family Fund active there for three of those, so the Bank is just a youngster in our family history. Nevertheless, the Bank has had a significant impact, not only on its communities, but on me and my family as well. Now, our time there has more than doubled.
We expanded our Colorado footprint with a branch in Denver in 2015. We located in a customer’s new development between the Platte River and I-25, just south of the 21st Street exit. This year, in spite of Covid, we established a branch in Westcliffe, located between the Wet Mountains to the east and the Sangre de Cristo Range to the west. I was pleased we were able to invite the local artists’ guild to showcase their art in our newest location, as covid had shut down some other opportunities.
Our strategy to growth and stability has not been built, as many banks have done, on mergers and acquisitions. Rather, we up the ante on people, the people we hire and the people with whom we do business. This has enabled us to expand the scope of our expertise and capacity, to play successfully against bigger competitors while maintaining our focus on customer relationships and service.
We are very thankful for the relationships we have with our customers, our communities and our colleagues. We are very appreciative of the trust our customers place in us and we are committed to earning that trust each day. Our motto for the next 50 years is an invitation for you and your business to come grow with us.
Article provided by Kirkpatrick Bank
102 N Cascade Ave, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80903