State Bank & Trust Announces Name Change

Leaders at State Bank & Trust have announced their intention to rebrand the locally owned community bank as “Bell State Bank & Trust” later this year. The company plans to retain the identifying mark of the State Bank & Trust “tree” logo, which is long established and widely recognized in the region.

Why Change the Name?

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Fargo, N.D., State Bank & Trust has grown to be the largest independently owned bank in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. The bank has 15 full-service banking locations in North Dakota and Minnesota, more than $2.2 billion in bank assets, and more than $3 billion in assets under management by its Wealth Management Division. In March, State Bank & Trust purchased First National Bank in Hawley and in April opened its first Twin Cities bank, located west of downtown Minneapolis in Golden Valley.

“It is exciting to grow in new markets and new lines of business,” said State Bank & Trust president Michael Solberg. “Yet the generic nature of the State Bank & Trust name has led to confusion in the marketplace and for our potential customers.”

Solberg cites more than 150 banks in the Dakotas and Minnesota with similar brands that have the word “State” in their names. Even in Hawley, where State Bank & Trust recently finalized the purchase of First National Bank, State Bank of Hawley is already in existence.

At State Bank & Trust, the plan is to change branding on legal documents and disclosures, external signage, letterhead, and other essential materials by late September. Conversion of additional materials will be phased in through the first quarter of 2013.

Why “Bell State Bank & Trust”?

Last year, State Bank & Trust purchased leading Twin Cities lender Bell Mortgage, with 28 offices in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Phoenix. Since its founding in 1880 by early Minneapolis leader David Bell, Bell Mortgage has developed an outstanding reputation for service and has more than half a million family mortgages to its name.

“We have an advantage in rebranding,” said Solberg. “We have two names – Bell Mortgage and State Bank – that mean a lot to all of us in our company. Combined, they unite two strong companies and brands to build a unique identity. Bell State Bank & Trust is easy to spell, say and remember, and Bell is a name that is well recognized and respected in the Twin Cities market, where we expect to see significant growth in the coming years.”

There is no other “Bell State Bank & Trust” or even “Bell Bank” in the nation, added Solberg.

State Bank & Trust’s major divisions for mortgage, wealth management and investments will also take on the Bell State name as “divisions of Bell State Bank & Trust.”

“People Philosophy” Remains Unchanged

Solberg said State Bank & Trust has been through several name changes and logo variations during its 44-year history. He reminded bank employees, customers and friends that while the name changes with the addition of “Bell,” the logo will remain the same and, more importantly, the bank’s “bottom line” philosophy – “Happy Employees! Happy Customers!” – remains unchanged.

“Names and logos come and go, but we have always been about the people we employ and the people we serve, and that is what makes this company great,” Solberg said. “Our people are the same, and so is our commitment to keeping our headquarters in Fargo and our banks in the communities we serve. We are committed to remaining a locally owned, community bank for generations to come. That will never change no matter how many times the name or logo might change in the years ahead.”

Additional Information

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29 Responses to this post...

  • Cheryl Thompson on May 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm #


    I am disappointed with the name change. State Bank and Trust has been a landmark name and even though other banks have similiar names you have dealt with it since 1966 and it has become a standard. Your name has risen above other state banks – if people said State Bank and Trust, the response was usually – you mean Fargo…. and NOT Hawley, etc.

    You could have changed it to SB&T like Twin City Federal changed theirs to TCF.

    I am originally from Sharon ND and knew Buck Snortland and know Dick Solberg back when it was the bank up at Northport.

    Have you considered that the name Bell will have its own connection/connotation problems – like people remembering old Ma Bell – AT & T???

    You bought out a Mpls firm called Bell and changed the name because of their firm??? That’s what it looks like. That you folks sold out to a Mpls based entity. That does not sit well with us local folk.

    State Bank and Trust was always thought of as the little independent bank that made it big-I was always proud that I knew of the origins of the bank. Now it appears like you sold out.

    I know about things like this — I worked for the ND Bankers Association for 16 years and went through changes of other local banks – big and small – where it has not set well with people.

    I remember a good bank called First National Bank in Grand Forks…. now called Alerus.
    And then there was Security State Bank of Hannaford, now called Bank Forward. Neither one set well with others in the community.

    History has its place. And sometimes its remembering the past and how things got started. Somethings you do need to move forward with like technology and types of services offered — but some things mean solid character, like the solid name of State Bank and Trust.

    Best to you and good luck with dealing with this name change. It is a sad day for banking when State Bank and Trust has seemed to have followed the paths of other local independent banks that went big.

    I thought you folks were different.

    A longtime loyal customer … and I am not that old!!! :)

    Cheryl Thompson

  • jlarson on May 29, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Cheryl, thank you for your feedback. As Dick Solberg and Michael Solberg have often said, while our name has changed over the years, what has not changed is our people, values and commitment to our communities. It is very important to us to continue to be a locally owned, Fargo-based community bank. We thank you, and all of our loyal customers for your support.

  • Kim Jacobson on May 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    My first reaction to the name change was “really and I don’t like it” but having asked the question “why the name change?” and getting excellent customer service by getting a response ( within 5 min.)of why and a thank you for asking I realize that the qualities that I love about this bank aren’t changing. You have your Professional reasons that make sense to me with your success and growth. I changed my name when I got married and that didn’t make a different person and I am sure it won’t make you a different bank that forgets about its customers. I don’t see that ever changing. Keep striving to be your best. A happy customer!

  • Zach Priddy on May 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Bell State Bank does not have a good ring to it. I have to agree with a previous comment about how it reminds me of AT&T. Honestly that was the first thing I thought of when I read the name change. I really like State Bank and Trust as a bank. It like when Sanford “merged” with Merit Care. Merit Care is no longer the name but Sanford and it is a totally different place. Did you “merge” with this Bell company in Minneapolis or did you buy them out? Are you changing because it was part of an agreement with the merger or buy out? Can you really say that as you grow your principals will remain the same. Unfortunately other “mergers” in our are have left a bad taste in peoples mouths. Dont change, but change is inevitable with growth.

  • jlarson on May 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Zach, thank you for comments. To answer your questions…We purchased Bell Mortgage in January of 2011. Bell Mortgage has been a division of State Bank & Trust since then. Changing our name was not part of the Bell Mortgage purchase. And, as we grow, our guiding principles have not and will not change in the way we do business. Our ownership and management has not changed and we are committed to being a locally owned bank, headquartered in Fargo, N.D., for generations to come. If you walk into a State Bank & Trust branch tomorrow, or 5 years from now, you will be treated the same way and you will receive unequaled personal service.

  • Mike Berg on May 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Why not UFFDA STATE BANK. It has a familiar ring and would certainly signify your midwestern roots. Bell leaves a bad ringing in my ears.

  • Linda Mellon on May 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    I guess I ‘ll reserve judgement on thena e change and hope that nothing else about the bank changes!

  • Linda Mellon on May 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Oops….I mean on the name change!

  • John B. on May 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Well, well, well…yet another Twin Cities bank dominating the North Dakota market. I guess nothing has really changed in the past 100 years or so, has it now? This is perhaps the most disappointing news I’ve heard around here in a long time. Plus, the new name conjures up bad memories from the old days when you only had one choice for phone service. If you really had to come up with something new, couldn’t it have been better than that???

    I always thought State Bank was locally focused, like back when you were that nice little bank up by Northport. That’s gone now, and another Fargo business is history.

  • Judy Bailey on May 30, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    I was surprised and a little disappointed in the name change. We moved from Wells Fargo because of poor customer service and have found State Bank & Trust to be excellent in that area. The Trust in your name is what drew us to you initially. Bell State Bank sounds like Disney Land to me, but things change. Now how about changing some of your on-line banking? Like adding the ability to track how much you spend and on what. Question? I have a lot of checks with State Bank & Trust on them, don’t use them much so will probably have them for awhile. Will I need to get new checks or can I use these until they run out? I Trust your bank will retain the current level of customer service and be able to change going forward. Thank you.

  • gaylon anderson on May 30, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    There are much bigger problems in the world than adding a name to your current one.

  • Melissa Bauder on May 30, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I was born in 1965, so I’ve been around as long as the bank. State Bank has been MY bank since 1983 when I turned 17 and went off to college. I tell everyone that “I LOVE MY BANK!” and I do. I have had additional accounts at other banks and worked with other banks thru my employments, but State Bank is hands down the winner in all categories. Especially the cookies! They make you my children’s favorite bank too!

    I am sad to see the name change, because State Bank & Trust has been a constant in my life for 30 years. Why change a good thing? I understand the reason for the name change, but again sometimes it is just alright to stay the same. In a world of CONSTANT change and lack of loyalty having your bank’s name stay the same is very comforting. The United States doesn’t change its name, GOD doesn’t change HIS name, and Prince’s name decision didn’t seem to make a huge difference. : ) If you DO change the name though, please keep the & TRUST! It is one of my favorite parts of your name from your last change! And it has ALWAYS been a big part of who your are. The friendly local bank that you can TRUST! Thanks for all the great years of impeccable service! I still love my bank, even if you do change your name. I look forward to another 30 years plus. : )

  • jlarson on May 30, 2012 at 9:16 am #


    Thanks for your comments. We are in the process of implementing a brand new personal online banking system. Here is a link to more information. With the new personal online banking system, we have a financial management tool that can track your spending. As for checks, you can continue to use them until they run out. Our company has always done business according to our unique bottom line: “Happy Employees! Happy Customers!” We know that even as we continue to be successful, we will never outgrow our community bank, service-oriented culture. The difference between us and the “big banks” is huge, and it is our people and culture. You can walk into any of our banks tomorrow, next week, or next year … you’ll still get the same personal service you’ve come to expect from us.

  • Bud McMullen on May 30, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    So what if Bell is a recognized name in Minnesota banking, aren’t you primarily an North Dakota Bank? Sounds to me like you’re positioning yourself to move to the cities. I know you’ve said that you’re committed to North Dakota but in today’s business climate what a CEO says today doesn’t hold much water for tomorrow.

    And Bell State Bank? Is that like the sunshine state, the lone star state, which state is the bell state?

    It looks like with all the growth you’ve seen there isn’t too much confusion about the present name. I’ve banked with you since the early 90’s but this worries me. Not the name change as such but changing to a name that’s know better elsewhere.

  • Mark on May 30, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    A name change is a name change get over it people. State Bank used to be known as State Bank of Fargo when it first started. Customer service has always been the same regardless of the name of the company! I’m sure that it will take some time to get in the habit of saying Bell State Bank but in time just as when it went from State Bank of Fargo/Moorhead/West Fargo to the current State Bank & Trust to now Bell State Bank will take time.

  • Jon on May 30, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    I am THRILLED to be a Bell State Bank customer, regardless of what the name of the bank is! All of the comments on here and facebook (both positive and negative) show what a strong brand and culture SB&T has created. When we moved to town our friends who had lived here for 5 years said “Go to SB&T. It is the best bank in town.” We did. And they were right. We remain customers not because of the name. Dick and Mike are committed to the same principles the bank was built on.

  • Norm Stoehr on May 31, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    I am a new customer from California. From a trademark perspective, State Bank & Trust is too generic. Bell Mortgage has earned a sterling reputation over many years. As Michael Solberg points out, there is no other Bell State Bank in the US, and that makes the mark significantly more valuable. The rebranding is a positive change.

  • Casey on May 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    I really don’t like the name change. Michael did point out that there is no other Bell State Bank in the US. I am thinking that there is a good reason for that, it sounds terrible. Re-branding can be very difficult, look at Quickster. I hope your new customers in Minneapolis like it.

  • Donovan on May 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Really people, come on! Just because the name Bell cam from a Minneapolis acquisition doesn’t mean squat.

    Boo-hoo, your precious bank name is changing to a name affiliated with MSP. Who cares?

    Then you immediately get the conspiracy theorists that it is a Twin Cities takeover. Really!?!? Save it for AM radio.

    That said…it’s not that great of a name. But then neither was SB&T. It’s a move sideways.

    PS – I like the new online business banking.

  • Matthew Berry on May 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    As long as the name is not changing to Wells Fargo, I will remain a customer.

  • Carrie on May 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Hmm… well, I’m not only disappointed by the name change but also the fact that you claim your still committed to your employees and the “local” community. State Bank is laying off several “local” employees to outsource the service to a company in California. Which in turn will likely be outsourced to who knows where. I have been a loyal customer for years and referred many of my friends to the bank. I’m not sure that I will be as happy with this company now.

  • Tony on May 31, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    This new name is not the best decision ever made by SB&T. By taking on a new name, you risk throwing away over 40 years of integrity that you’ve built up being “State Bank”.

    As far as the President of SB&T saying that the bank will remain a “Fargo” bank, time will tell. I hope that was an honest and sincere statement on his part. Unfortunately, CEOs & Presidents have the nasty habit of being deceptive or misleading when they’re planning on doing something they know will be unpopular with their customers.

    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that statement was nothing but smoke & mirrors, and this name change is just the first step down a slippery slope towards State Bank becoming a “Twin Cities” bank. If that comes to fruition, I will stop doing any business with SB&T before Mr. Solberg can spew a single word of spin-doctor BS about the benefits. I specifically do my personal banking with ND-owned/ND-based banks ONLY.

    Until then, I am a very happy customer with State Bank & Trust, and will be happy doing business with Bell State Bank, also (so long as it remains a FARGO bank!).

  • Alyce on Jun 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I have been banking with State Bank for over 20yrs. now, my daughter also banks with you. I have never had any complaints with the service or the staff. I fear that will end soon after the name change. If you truly plan on keeping things local without changing the personalized services then there would be no need for a name change. I totally agree with what others have said, change the big city banks name, adding Bell to the name makes one think of the old outdated phone company we once had, then there are those who will think of Kyle Bell, Fargos own child killer. Seeing that you are putting the Bell name 1st lets me know that the changes will be comming. At least I have a local City & County Emp. Credit Union who has my savings account & will be glad to know that when the changes start at State Bank they will finally get my checking also. I really hope Mr. Solberg comes to his senses and listens to what his loyal State Bank of FARGO customers want. looks like all he really cares about is being the Pres. of a bank with lots of customers even if it means screwing over the many loyal long time little people from Fargo. Wouldn’t it be grand if his dad decided to start a local bank, State Bank of Fargo would be a good name. Hoping for the best fearing the worst.

  • Herb Rose on Jun 4, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    I don’t understand why SOME people think they have to fix something that isn’t broken. It is a good example of having too many people on staff and they are looking for something to do. Before you do something else these people come up with, you may want to check with a few of your customers to get there take on it.

  • Marisol Gonzalez on Jun 4, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Congratulations to all of you who got your name on the website. From some of the ridiculous comments you have made here, I can see that very few of you have read the article regarding the changes, and I can only assume that spewing forth your opinion is the only way to get your name out there. (Might I suggest that you find something else to do)

    If you read the article, you would know that the name change is a smart business move. The bank is moving into the Twin Cities. Have you googled State Bank? There are lots and lots of them…..including the one in India. If you had read the article, you would know that State Bank PURCHASED Bell Mortgage. They were not taken over by Bell Mortgage. You would know that there is a committment to remain a Fargo based bank.

    I have to wonder WHY this is such a sensitive issue with some people. This is a BUSINESS!!! They have the right to make money!! Why are you so upset that they are growing? Don’t you realize that with growth comes opportunity? Don’t you realize that they have probably added positions here in Fargo after taking on Bell Mortgage? Don’t you realize that as they grow, more positions will probably become available in Fargo, as this is their home base? Why is growing and being successful such a bad thing? I just don’t get it!!! These are the principles that our country was built on!!!

    So, you don’t like the name. Go to another bank. Pay for your checks…they are AT LEAST 20 bucks a box. Pay for Identity Theft protection. There’s another 15.00 a month (if you’re lucky). Call them….you will probably end up talking to some call center in India. They may or may not speak English. Pay the montnly maintenance fee. There’s another 5 to 10 bucks a month. Sure, you may get a freebie here or there, but you’ll pay for it in the long run. Read the fine print!!!

    Bell State Bank is a privately owned bank based in Fargo North Dakota. They are good people who have the right to run a good business and they have the right to make the decisions that they want to make, whether or not you like the new name. Nothing else is changing. Get over yourselves!!!!

  • Allie Ray on Jun 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Marisol for President! Well said!

    Congratulations Bell State Bank, on your continued success.

  • Valerie Rasmussen on Jun 10, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    I don’t care what the bank name is. A name is just a name; however, the customer service is what keeps me a loyal State Bank & Trust customer.

    The employees at every State Bank & Trust I have visited have treated me with such awesome customer service. They smile, greet you, and help you in any way that they can. That speaks volumes to me because customer service is a dying thing. As long as the customer service stays the same, we continue to receive free checking, ATM fees reimbursed, and the other benefits of banking with such an awesome bank I will continue to be a loyal customer that spreads the word that Bell State Bank is the place to be.

    Thank you for your Happy Employees, Happy Customers philosophy! Keep up the great work and no matter what you name the bank people will bank with you because of that philosophy.

    Proud customer of the Fergus Falls branch!

  • Matt F on Jun 13, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    Good move. Name was too generic. Ownership is as solid as ever and local people. C’mon man!

  • eric on Jun 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Why change? I don’t know, bell mortgage based in Twin cities. Kind of confused me with name itself. But, As long they are based in fargo, i’m good. but I rather stay on State Bank & Trust. I’m more concern about its becoming big bank like Wells Fargo. That’s why i switch my current bank to st&t this year. i’m still caution how ceo/president may being deceptive or misleading or not. And also, I can hope that Bell State Bank focus on locally concept than Wall Street Casino.Can anyone tell about Bell mortgage? Is Bell mortgage in bad shape with housing crisis? Thank!

    new customer of the wahpeton branch.
    hope for best for State Bank & Trust company and customer!

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