Looking out for clients’ best interest since 1879


Scott Johnson, left, is Tom Wiener Jr.’s relationship manager. Johnson helps Wiener with his commercial banking needs Alerus.

In 1897, Alerus opened its first location in Grand Forks, North Dakota.’ annual craft show.

For more than 100 years Alerus has offered a number of services, all under one umbrella.

Founded in 1897 as First National Bank of Grand Forks, North Dakota, the company changed its name to Alerus in 2000.

“When we expanded into the Twin Cities, we needed a name that could be used beyond North Dakota,” explains Scott Johnson, senior relationship manager at Alerus.

Alerus offers a variety of financial programs, including full-service banking, residential mortgages, a retirement division and a wealth management group. 

 

The quarterback of the team

One special group on the Alerus team is the relationship managers — Johnson refers to them as the quarterbacks. 

“In the old days they used to be called commercial bankers,” Johnson says. “We call them relationship managers because we help manage relationships.”

Relationship managers work one-on-one with businesses, listening to their needs and then providing them with ideas or solutions.

Johnson is the quarterback for Tom Wiener Jr. and his company Cardinal Home Builders, helping Wiener with his commercial banking needs.

“If Tom was interested in learning more about how to manage his personal investments, I can connect him to one of our experts in our wealth management division,” Johnson says, explaining the role of the relationship manager as the go-to person for clients and their varied financial needs.

Johnson says there’s normally one relationship manager per business, allowing for personal care — supported by team members who help in other areas, such as mortgages and wealth management. 

 

A lasting relationship

Back in the 1950s, Tom’s father acquired Cardinal Homebuilder, and in the 1960s he started Cardinal Realty. When Tom Wiener Jr. was 18, he obtained his real estate license. 

Five different companies can be found under the Cardinal umbrella: homebuilding, real estate, development, appraisal and remodeling.

Wiener now owns Cardinal and works there as a broker. His relationship with Alerus started with Johnson.

“I’ve been working with Scott for at least 25 or 30 years,” he says.

A Washington County Bank occupied the building before Alerus opened its Oakdale branch. Wiener talked with the folks at Washington County Bank and ended up telling Johnson he needed to go get a job with them.

Part of the reason Wiener used the  Washington County Bank was because of its friendly service — this focus on delivering great service was not lost when Alerus assumed ownership.

“It’s a friendly group, but they also can get the job done for me,” Wiener says.

Johnson helps put together loans for Wiener so that he can jumpstart developments and break ground on new homes with minimal issues. Because of how long they have been working together, Johnson knows how Wiener does things.

Before working with Johnson, Wiener says he would have to re-introduce himself anytime he needed a business-related loan and ended up working with a new loan officer.

“I had to tell them about me, what we do and how we do it,” Wiener says. “Well, Scott knows that — he knows my business, he knows it pretty much inside and out and stays on top of it.”

Wiener says if a business is thinking about looking for a relationship manager with Alerus, he suggests people go talk to them — they are going to listen to you.

And the transaction isn’t done once the loan papers are signed or business is finalized, Weiner says. Alerus will stick with you.

“It’s what I tell people about building my homes — anybody can build your home, but can they take care of you after the fact, and do they want to?” Wiener asks. “And that’s what Alerus does; they take care of you.”

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