Employee profile: Wayne Bruns

 Wayne Bruns

Wayne Bruns is one of GRSB’s business bankers.  Wayne knows spreadsheets, financial statements, loan rates, depreciation schedules and global cash flows, and this knowledge makes him an effective banker.  Wayne also knows that the differentiating factor in being a successful business banker is how well he relates to his customers on a personal level.

“People assume that business bankers are all about the numbers,” said Wayne, “and at one level we have to be about the numbers, but this job is also about creating and maintaining the relationships with the people who manage the businesses we support with our loans and other products.

“I spend time visiting with customers in the office, at lunch, or on the golf course, and to some people it may look like just having fun,” Wayne explained.  “However, building relationships with customers happens in many ways, at work or while you’re having fun.

One of the aspects of his job he values most is developing a deep understanding of how his customers’ businesses work.  The more he learns about the business, the more his knowledge can be helpful to business owners and managers as they do their financial planning. 

“I tell my customers that we have a partnership,” said Wayne.  “If they succeed, GRSB succeeds.  It’s really that simple.

“I have been as excited as some of our customers to witness their growth,” Wayne continued.  “I help them take the next step on the ladder of success, and it’s very cool.

One example is Joe Godwin and his business, Pro Blast.  The business provides sandblasting and painting services for mining and other equipment; with his technology, there really are no limits to what he can sand-blast and paint.  Joe and his wife, Nikki, started the business in their backyard garage.  Just last year, GRSB helped finance a major expansion for their busienss, a brand-new sandblasting and paint booth building in Keewatin.  Considering their humble beginnings, the Godwins and Wayne are nearly equally thrilled to see how far they’ve come.

Wayne’s enthusiasm for helping businesses grow developed over his years in the banking and finance world.  Wayne earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from his hometown college, Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Minnesota.  He met his wife, Gerri, on campus, and after graduation, they moved to Duluth where Wayne worked for three banks over a 12-year period.  His responsibilities included all aspects of retail banking, and it wasn’t until 2002, when he accepted a position at Grand Rapids State Bank, that he sunk his teeth into business banking. 

Wayne and Gerri, a teacher with Invest Early, have two children, Tyler (a senior at UMD) and Morgan, a first-year student at Concordia College in Moorhead.  Both of them were active in high school sports, and so Wayne and Gerri spent most of the winter months over the past 12 years as vigilant hockey parents, traveling from rink to rink throughout Minnesota to watch boys and girls hockey games.

“Once upon a time I would have told you that skiing was my favorite winter pastime, but that was a long time ago,” said Wayne.  “Since we’ve lived in Grand Rapids, our winters have been spent watching hockey games.  We’re still watching Morgan as she plays on the Concordia women’s hockey team, so our travels are all about three to three-and-a-half hours from home.

“My favorite hobby is golf,” Wayne added, “even though I’m not very good.”  Wayne is modest; he will play two or three times weekly all summer long and is a tough competitor.

Wayne is the middle child in a family of seven, which “explains a lot,” he’ll tell you.  One of the hobbies few people know he enjoys is scuba diving, and in fact he is a certified diver.  Most of the cool dives he’s done have been in the Caribbean off the eastern coast of Mexico or around Jamaica.

Wayne loves living in northern Minnesota, and he enjoys his work even more.  “I like the variety in the businesses I work with.  From painting mining equipment to learning about how lubrication systems keep huge draglines operating in North Dakota’s coal fields, I am exposed to many businesses.  It’s great.”

Bruns family  No Dakota dragline

Wayne's family includes daughter Morgan, Gerri and Tyler.  Wayne's business banking activity has allowed him to tour various job sites, includes this North Dakota coal dragline (above, right).  The mine where this dragline operates is a customer of Industrial Lubricant Company.  This equipment weighs 13 million pounds; has engines that generate 12,000 horsepowers; and stands 17 stories high.  The dragline shovel capacity is 124 cubic yards, enough to hold four Chevy suburbans or 1.5 million golf balls.  Below, a view from inside the control room and inside the "innards" of the equipment. 

dragline cab  inside a dragline

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