Employee profile: Andy Dehon

Andy Dehon

Living and working in northern Minnesota was a dream come true for Andy Dehon.

“My dad was an avid fisherman, and we’d been vacationing in northern Minnesota for more than 40 years,” said Andy Dehon.  “We wouldn’t always go to the same place—Alexandria, Ely, Bemidji, Itasca County--but when my dad pointed the car north for vacation, I knew it was all good.”

Andy grew up in Moline, IL, one of the “Quad Cities” on the Illinois/Iowa border.  After graduating from high school he immediately went to work at the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), one of the largest employers in the region.  Andy’s passion for computers began about the same time, when in 1977 he attended the Strat-o-matic Gaming Convention held in Champaign, IL.  The event included a tour of the University of Illinois computer room, and on weekends the graduate students staffing the computer room used spare time to play various games like “Star Trek.” 

“That really sparked my interest,” said Andy.  “Mainframe computers were huge pieces of equipment, and the computer terminals were the size of arcade games.  But there were these computer geeks playing games, and I thought it was pretty cool.”

In the early to mid-1980s, Andy spent free time playing early computer games and learning more about computers on his own.  He worked various blue-collar jobs at ALCOA, but one day saw an internal posting for an IT job.  When he read the job description, he figured he could do that work.  However, he didn’t have the formal training.  Luckily, his wife’s sister helped him find an on-line training opportunity at the Master’s Institute of Technology in San Jose, California. 

“My passion was computers, so for the next two years I spent 90% of my waking moments studying,” said Andy.  “Afterwards, I felt guilty if I sat down on a Sunday to watch the Vikings play.

“I took 24 months to finish what was supposed to be a 28-month on-line course on systems administration,” said Andy.  “I knew this could give me a ticket to a job that I truly enjoyed.”

Andy graduated in 2000 with an AS degree and immediately landed a job as assistant systems administrator with American Bank and Trust in Davenport.  Over the next eight years he moved through three different information technology (IT) positions with increasing responsibility.

“That bank was in super-growth mode,” Andy explained, “and in three years we bought new branch locations and converted their IT systems; oversaw a core conversion from OSI to FIS; and installed a virtualized server platform.”

After returning from what had been a restful two-week vacation in 2007, Andy was struck with a migraine headache on the first day back at work.  “It was as though I had never left,” he said.

The vacation Andy has just returned from was a fishing trip with his father in the Bemidji area, and Andy’s “loving” wife agreed to his goal of finding a job in northern Minnesota. 

“I began sending out resumes to banks in Bemidji, Grand Rapids, and Duluth,” he said, “and then I saw the advertisement for the job here.  I interviewed here and the rest is history.”

Andy began working at GRSB in March 2008 as operating system analyst, one of two positions in the bank’s information technology department.  “I enjoy the hands-on opportunity to work with computers and help users with various problems,” said Andy.  “This is a less pressure-filled environment than where I came from.” 

Andy and his wife, Becky, who works at L &M Fleet Supply, have two children, Cassie and Garrett, both high school students.  Andy is an avid fisherman and deer hunter, and living in Itasca County is a lifestyle improvement as far as he is concerned. And even though he is originally from Illinois he is a huge Twins and Vikings fan. He became a Twins fan in 1967 after seeing Harmon Killebrew hit a homerun at the old Met stadium and a Vikings fan in 1978 after Fran Tarkenton retired.

“My dad died last September, and he was very fond of this area,” said Andy.  “He and I would talk in the fishing boat about buying a place up here.  If he had had his choice, he would have moved up here when we did in 2008.”

“Dad was a member of the Mayo Clinic ‘Club,’” added Andy.  “The caregivers at Mayo Clinic extended his life many times over during the years he took treatment there.”

Andy’s mother is suffering from dementia, and she reluctantly moved to Grand Rapids last month.  Despite her misgivings initially, she has adjusted to her new life, has improved her health and is making new friends. 

“My job here at GRSB involves the usual day-to-day work with end users, but there are some good challenges,” said Andy.  “One goal of the IT department is to provide the best experience possible for our end users, whether that it is our internal customer or the external bank customer.  Our other goal has to be to improve efficiencies to always make that experience better for those end users.”

Andy’s work in a larger bank environment has also given him perspective about the role of bank management in the business of running a bank.  “Noah’s involvement in ICBA and ICBM are commendable,” said Andy.  “He is involved in banking associations and knows what it takes to run a good bank.  Not all banks are that way.  I learned this at my previous employer as the bank was eventually placed on the OCC watch list.

“One of the things I heard in the community when I started at GRSB is people had the impression that it wasn’t as easy to get a loan as it was in the past,” Andy continued.  “I would tell them this wasn’t due to a change of philosophy by the bank’s management but due to the banking regulations. I told them GRSB fully supports the initiatives of the ICBA as it protects their own interests and makes the banking environment better for communities like Grand Rapids.”

A little perspective goes a long way.  

Grandpa Dehon     Target field wall

Garrett, Grandpa George and Cassie Dehon (left).  At right, Garrett points out the Dehon family name listed on the 'Wall of Tradition' at Target Field in Minneapolis, home of the Minnesota Twins.

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