Jeff Plagge: A self-proclaimed ‘banking junkie'
on Friday, October 28, 2016
Jeff Plagge: A self-proclaimed ‘banking junkie’
Jeff Plagge started his career with the Farm Credit System, but found his way into the banking world six years into his career. He has been in banking ever since and has been a strong advocate for the industry, getting involved in advocating for the industry at a variety of levels, including the state level with the Iowa Bankers Association.
Today, he is the president and CEO of Northwest Financial Corp. in Arnolds Park.
How did you get into banking as a career?
Kind of by default through the interviewing process at Iowa State University. I graduated from ISU after a summer session and had three job offers. I could sell feed, fertilizer and chemicals or money. I chose money. I started out of college in 1978 with the Farm Credit System at the Production Credit Association (PCA) in Council Bluffs and then in Webster City. In 1984, I moved from PCA in Webster City to First State Bank in Webster City. That was my official entry into the banking business and I’ve never looked back.
Prior to your current role, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had, and what lesson did it teach you that you still use today?
I always worked in the summers during high school and always with one to three jobs at a time in college. I just like working more than I liked school. My college jobs ranged from selling large appliances, working in a clothing store, detailing cars, construction and the late shift at a newspaper. All of them were educational in the sense of the job itself, working with fellow employees, learning to talk and relate to customers, trying to make a difference, and managing my time. I’m still in continuous learning with all of those same points today.
What is your best elevator pitch for why banking is a great career?
It is a career where you can truly make a difference in people’s personal and business lives, and impact the robustness and viability of the communities you work in.
How does getting involved with the Iowa Bankers Association help you and your bank?
As most people know, I am a banking junkie and have devoted a lot of time in my career advocating for the industry at many levels. It all started early with and continues with the Iowa Bankers Association. Getting engaged allows you to meet a lot of bankers, exchange ideas and stay on the forefront of changes in our industry. It really affords each of us the opportunity to be a proactive banker rather than a reactive banker. And since the Iowa Bankers Association is truly one of the best banking associations in the country, it is an elevated opportunity right from the start. As I have always said, if we don’t advocate for our industry, who will?
When you’re not at work, what do you like to do most?
Sandy and I are lake people. We didn’t grow up on the lake but over the years we started spending time in Clear Lake and now Okoboji. Beyond that, it is all about family, even more so now with our 1½-year-old twin granddaughters.
What is a quote or guiding principle you live by?
Always try to treat people with respect and dignity.