Photo by Chad Koenen
Al Berube was awarded an American flag after spending the past year as chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota. The organization represents 188 community banks in the state. 

Berube finishes a term as ICBM Chairman

By Chad Koenen


l Berube has spent the better part of a decade being an advocate for community banks across the state of Minnesota. That advocacy culminated in August when Berube wrapped up a one year term as chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota Chairman.

As the chairman, Berube represented the interest of community banks across the state from communities a fraction of the size of New York Mills to some multi-billion dollar community banks in the Twin Cities and beyond. 

“There are 188 banks in the state that are members,” said Berube. “There are some large banks, but they are community banks.”

The President of Farmers and Merchants State Bank in NY Mills joined the ICBM Board of Directors as the District 8 representative in 2010. There are 10 districts in the state and Berube was elected to the state board by the banks in his district. That district stretches from Moorhead to Ashby, Park Rapids and Mahnomen. 

At the end of his six year term on the board of directors, Berube was approached about the idea of serving on the executive committee. That meant another five year commitment, but would ultimately result with him being named as chairman of the board. 

Organized in 1962, ICBM was created to represent the unique interests of independent community banks. Large chain banks are not members of the organization, which provides a source of information and a powerful voice in government by uniting the influence of all of the community bankers under a single entity. The organization provides resources for everything like ATM machines, training and advocating for small community banks at the capitol.

Berube said serving on the board of directors was a great opportunity to get to meet bankers from across the state, many of whom are facing the same challenges and successes as Farmers and Merchants State Bank. He also credited Ed Buerkle and the staff at Farmers and Merchants for giving him the chance to represent community banks from across the state. 

“That’s the biggest thing is learning from other bankers,” he said. 

Not only was he able to represent the interest of northern Minnesota as chairman, but he was also a voice for smaller banks in the state as well. The average ICBM member bank has assets of $300-500 million. Farmers and Merchants State Bank is smaller than that, but over the past year Berube has been working for the interests of banks his size and smaller, as well as some of the largest community banks in the state. 

As far as he knows, Berube said he is only the second person from the local district to serve as chairman, joining Jim Espeland of First National Bank of Henning, Ottertail and Battle Lake. People appointed to the executive committee serve one year terms as treasurer, vice chair, chair elect and chair, before serving one more year as vice chair. 

Berube’s term as chairman of the ICBM officially came to an end on Aug. 10 at the organization’s annual convention at Grandview Lodge in Nisswa, Minn. He was presented an American flag, which he has displayed in his office. He will continue to serve on the board of directors for one more as past chair.

The new chairman of the ICBM is Anita Drentlaw of New Market Bank in Lakeville, Minn. Other executive committee members include Mark Toombs of The First State Bank of Rosemount, Peter Nelson of Glenwood State Bank and Tiffany Baer Paine of Security State Bank in Bemidji.