Retiring banker had big impact

  • October 20, 2008 - 11:35 PM

Steve Erdall, a driver behind the revitalization of several St. Paul commercial corridors, will retire as chief executive of Western Bank at the end of the year. Erdall, 56, and CEO for 20 years, is checking out 30 years after the Bill Sands family hired him as a real estate lender.

"I'm really proud that we're a high-performing bank, that we get the highest grades under the Community Reinvestment Act and that we proved that you could be profitable in the inner-city of St. Paul as well as in an affluent community such as Edina," Erdall said recently. "It's a matter of networking your community. And we stayed away from home builders and land developers, which can be very cyclical and high-risk businesses. Our forte was always small-business loans, little retail centers and office buildings and apartment buildings.

"We've been lucky, but you didn't have to be smart to stay away from subprime mortgages. That was mortgage broker and investment banker greed."

Erdall plans to travel, fish and play golf as well as volunteer. He's considering a role as a part-time instructor for a nonprofit agency to counsel consumers on avoiding credit trouble.

"Getting in over their heads is a big consumer problem," Erdall said. "I think I could help people stay out of trouble. That might do some good."

Erdall loves driving University, Dale and Selby Avenues, pointing out now-bustling Western-financed retail centers, restaurants and renovated apartment buildings that were once dilapidated shells.

"Steve has helped the Sands family grow this high-performing bank from $22 million to more than $350 million in assets and from one to six locations," said Western Chairman Julie Sands Causey, the third generation of the Sands family to oversee the company.

Erdall, who will remain on the Western Bank Board of Directors, will be succeeded as CEO by Tony Lemaire, a veteran who heads Western's commercial banking business.

No more Twinkies for CM ad agency

Campbell Mithun, the Twin Cities' largest ad agency, is saying so long after 24 years to the company that produces Twinkies and Wonder Bread. Interstate Bakeries Corp. (IBC), the wholesale bread and cake distributor, has reorganized in bankruptcy.

New York-based investment company Ripplewood Holdings agreed to buy Interstate and move the advertising business to Grey Group Advertising.

Campbell Mithun was responsible for several award-winning campaigns with IBC, including "Where's the cream filling?" for Hostess Snack Cakes and "Remember the Wonder!"

Those of us who grew up loving ''peanut-butter-on-white" in the 1960s will never forget: "Wonder Bread builds strong bodies 12 different ways!"

USB ranked No. 1

U.S. Bancorp is ranked No. 1 as part of "The 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking" for the third consecutive year, according to U.S. Banker magazine.

The industry publication also selected three U.S. Bancorp women for individual recognition.

The team ranking is based on the company's overall financial performance, percentage of women corporate officers and management committee members, number of senior women executives, financial performance of women-led business units, and feedback from analysts.

Pam Joseph, vice chairman of payment services, and Diane Thormodsgard, vice chairman of wealth management and securities services, were named among the 25 most powerful women in banking. Joseph ranked fourth and Thormodsgard ranked 14th. Leslie Godridge, executive vice president and head of national corporate and institutional banking, ranked eighth in the "Women to Watch" category.

A sign of the times

One more victim of the financial crisis: the sale price of Twin Cities businesses. According to, the median asking price for Minneapolis-area business dropped by 11.7 percent in the third quarter, from $300,000 a year ago to $265,000 this year. The data is based on 307 Twin Cities businesses listed for sale.


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