FAIRMONT - Chris Pierce is the first to admit, anyone who knew him as a student growing up in Fairmont would not have foreseen him taking on an upper management banking position. But he believes that's part of what makes him good at his job today.
Pierce, a Fairmont native, recently was hired as market president of US Bank in Fairmont, a position that entails overseeing operations and employees at the Fairmont branch as well as several other small-town sites, such as Lamberton and Amboy.
"The servant leadership model is what I always have believed in," said Pierce, describing his management style and responsibilities.
THE?MAN?IN?CHARGE?— Chris Pierce, the new market president, poses for a photo in the US Bank lobby in Fairmont.
"And I always throw salt on the sidewalk," he added with a laugh.
Pierce is humble when talking about his background and how he was able to earn the position he holds today.
"I was not a good student," he acknowledged. "But I think it makes me more empathetic. It makes me value hard work. It makes me a better listener."
Prior to joining US Bank, Pierce worked across the street as a commercial banker with First Farmers & Merchants Bank for the past six years. That was the job that brought him and wife Amy back to this area, after spending some time with Wells Fargo in the Twin Cities.
Initially, the Pierces thought they would be in Fairmont a couple years. Pierce had planned to return for his master's degree and work in Minneapolis.
"It didn't take long, and I fell in love with Fairmont all over again," he said.
Part of the appeal is the familiarity with the community. His dad, Steve Pierce, works as a CPA just a couple blocks down the street from the bank. His church, St. John Vianney, is one where he knows most of the other congregants, and they know him. Walking up and down the street in a single day, he might see several former teachers.
He knows some people still remember him as "little Chris P," and he knows all the recollections of "little Chris P" might not be favorable.
"I believe in continuous improvement - because it's a necessity," he said, chuckling.
When he left home for college, he quickly grew bored and dropped out. He was a bartender for a while and then got a job working on hog barns. On a 99-degree day, his T-shirt pulled up over his face to filter out the smell of an accidental leak that was causing manure to spray everywhere, Pierce decided the time had come to return to school.
But he doesn't regret the path he took to get his college education.
"It was the best experience for me," he said. "I learned time management and a better appreciation of the dollar."
Since coming back to Fairmont, Pierce has taken on a leadership role in the community, partly due to what he saw in his father growing up. Pierce is currently president of the Martin County Economic Development Authority, Deputy Grand Knight of the local Knights of Columbus chapter, Fairmont Planning Commission member, Junior Achievement classroom instructor and St. John Vianney finance committee member. He previously served as president of Fairmont Opera House, as a Rotary Club board member and co-chair for the Rotary STRIVE mentoring program.
"We're encouraged to be active in the community at US Bank, not just allowed but encouraged, so I can leave the office to participate in those things," he said. "Being involved is the best way to meet people. You can say you're invested in the community, but you've got to get out there and live it."