Mark Hewitt of Northwoods Bank in Park Rapids, Minn., was NorthWestern Financial Review’s Banker of the Year for 1995. Mark was chairman-elect of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota at the time. Apparently, once a leader, always a leader — he served as ICBM chairman again in 2007-2008.
Early in Hewitt’s career, he moved the bank from a town of 20 people to Park Rapids, which was a booming vacation town. The better location translated into substantially more business for the bank, and it grew substantially — from $5 million in assets in 1980 to $37 million in 1995.
In addition to running a successful bank, Hewitt was selected for bringing technological advancements to his industry. Through his work with ICBM, he was the person behind the creation of FutureBank, a bank expo featuring the latest in technology. He always had an interest in technology but he found that many sales representatives from the bank tech companies didn’t want to come to little towns located in remote parts of the state. So Mark worked to launch FutureBank as a place where vendors could show off their latest technology in a single place. FutureBank grew into a big success; ICBM eventually sold the rights to the show. After a few years, ICBM started another similar show called TechXpo, which in 2011 is scheduled for April 26.
Hewitt also worked with the Minnesota Department of Commerce on a new approach to exams which would substantially reduce the amount of time examiners would spend in the bank. The Commerce Department developed a system for collecting bank information via computer, so that it could examine bank files and other data in its own offices before venturing out to the bank. It was called the bifurcated exam, meaning that it was an exam that could occur in two places at once.
Hewitt combined business acumen with a drive to use technology to improve the industry. Those qualities helped Hewitt stand out from other bankers and earned him Banker of the Year honors from NorthWestern Financial Review.