Closing the books on a 48-year banking career
Steve Markell got his start in the banking industry when he was a senior at Bend High School.
"I first started as a messenger slash stock boy in 1970, and then I went to being a teller, and I worked my way up the ladder slowly," says Markell, who will retire from the U.S. Bank at the end of the month after a 48-year banking career.
The community is invited to congratulate and wish him happy retirement during an open house celebration from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 at the Bowman Museum Community Room. An RSVP is requested by Oct. 15.
"Steve Markell has been one of the top performing commercial bankers at U.S. Bank throughout his 21-year tenure with our organization," said Wendy McGrane, vice president and commercial tanking team leader who is based at the Central and Eastern Oregon region headquarters in Bend.
"He has been remarkable in his tireless efforts to truly advocate for his clients to help them achieve their goals," McGrane said, noting that he has also been a mentor to many colleagues in his time at U.S. Bank. "His legacy of client advocacy will continue in the many employees that have learned so much from him."
Judi Hicks has returned to U.S. Bank in Prineville and will take over Markell's role come November.
"Judi is an experienced commercial relationship manager and is thrilled to be back in Prineville where she has spent most of her banking career," McGrane said. "Judi has already reconnected with many clients since returning to Prineville, and she looks forward to supporting and expanding those relationships."
Markell was born and raised in Bend and got a job with First National Bank through a work program with his high school.
First National Bank evolved into First Interstate, which eventually evolved into Wells Fargo.
"It wasn't until 1973 or '74 that I became an officer at the bank," Markell recalls. "In those days, you had people who ran teller row and then you had the manager who ran the loan platform."
He came to Prineville in 1977 as the manager of teller row and all the employees who were not lenders at the First Interstate Bank branch at the corner of Northwest Deer and Northwest Third streets, a spot he stayed for 20 years.
In 1979, he became a commercial lender, a role he has held ever since.
"I take care of all the commercial needs for the customers," he said.
When Wells Fargo bought First Interstate out in 1997, Markell went to work for the Prineville U.S. Bank branch, and he's been there for 21 years. He also serves as the vice president and relationship manager.
There's no doubt about it — technology has definitely changed the banking industry in the 48 years that Markell has been in the financial business.
"In those days, the staff was like 20, 25 people, and now the same staff is like 10 people. That's how much technology has changed," he says. "So when I came, there was a lot more done inside the branch, and there was a lot more to be supervised or watched over."
He says that technology has taken so much out of the branches that the backroom office can do so much more than it did then.
"Now, you can do so many things on your smartphone," Markell says. "There's a lot less customer contact. People can do a lot more things without having to come into the branch."
Markell has belonged to the Rotary Club of Crook County for 30-plus years, and he volunteers with the Crooked River Roundup Horse Races each year.
When he first moved to Prineville, he helped out with the financial part of the races, but he then found himself working the gates.
Over the years, he has enjoyed hunting, fishing and being outdoors.
Markell has four children, Chris, Dwight, Brooks and Stephanie, ages 46 to 30, who live across Oregon, as well as 10 grandchildren. He and his wife, Kitty, plan to remain in Prineville for retirement.
Once he retires, you won't find Markell behind his banker's desk.
"I have seven grandchildren between here and Bend, so I think they're going to keep me plenty busy," he chuckled.
Looking back on his 41 years as a Prineville Banker, Markell says, "I have been blessed with many, many great clients."
Celebrate Steve Markell's Retirement
Date: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29
Place: Bowman Museum Community Room, 246 N. Main St.