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A close-knit staff

Carissa Roerick, clockwise from left, Donna Heimark, Nancy Baker and Kelsey Gerszewski make up the staff of the American National Bank of Minnesota in Detroit Lakes. Having an all woman staff, they say, has many benefits.

Spanning three generations, the four women who make up the entire staff of the American National Bank of Minnesota in Detroit Lakes find it easy to work together and run a successful banking business.

Nancy Baker, Donna Heimark, Carissa Roerick and Kelsey Gerszewski have been working together since earlier this year, and say that their all-woman staff has quite a few advantages -- for them and their customers.

Being in the banking business for many years, Baker and Heimark said they have worked their way up through the ranks and performed every job along the way, providing them more appreciation for newcomers like Roerick and Gerszewski.

"I can relate to what she does. I've done her job," Baker said.

Although they both have some banking experience behind them, Gerszewski and Roerick both started this year with the Detroit Lakes American National Bank.

Baker serves as a personal banker at the bank. Heimark is the senior customer service representative.

Roerick is a customer service representative who helps with opening accounts and helps at the counter when needed. And Gerszewski is also a customer service representative who takes care of the helping customers at the front counter. She will eventually open accounts as well.

"We're a smaller staff, so we do a lot of cross training," Baker said.

And while American National Bank of Minnesota may appear small, Baker said they have seven branch offices, with corporate headquarters in Brainerd, and each has its niche. Detroit Lakes' niche is the deposit sector.

There are 60 employees throughout the seven branches, and 40 of them are women.

"When I started," Baker said, "it was typically a man's world."

Clearly that has changed.

The Fergus Falls branch of the bank is all-women as well.

"The communication is there," Heimark said of having an all female staff. "We're always asking, 'what do you think about this, guys?'"

"No one feels they can't say anything," Roerick agreed.

The relationships they can build among themselves resonates with the customers as well. Baker said the thing that sets them apart is the exceptional customer service.

"I'm not saying men can't do that, but we really strive for that," she said.

It's building those relationships and learning their customers' habits and preferences that are important to these women.

"It's not that we're personal friends (with our customers), but we care," Heimark said.

The women agree that they are very open and work well together.

"We really can't see any disadvantages," Baker said of having an all woman staff.

"I feel very comfortable working here," Heimark said.

"I have never worked anywhere I felt like such a team," Gerszewski agreed.

Heimark -- who is married to Leslie and has three grown children and nine grandchildren -- said she got her start in banking in 1984 based on the reality of life.

"I was married with three children and we needed the extra funds in the family," she said.

She enjoyed working with people and got a part-time job at the bank.

"I think I've worked in every department of the bank," she said.

In 1987, Baker moved to Callaway, where her husband, Troy, was originally from.

"We moved here and I needed a job," she said.

So she applied for a position with the Callaway bank and eventually moved over to the American National Bank in Detroit Lakes, where she's been for the last 15 years.

The couple has two teenage children, Lindsay and Logan.

"I like helping people. I like to help that young family get into their first home. I like to help that young person get their first car," she said.

Roerick said she had an interest in banking during college, so when she graduated, "I needed a job and applied." Originally from Frazee, she worked in the Fargo-Moorhead area for a few years before relocating back to the area to be closer to family.

Gerszewski, who just married Steve Gerszewski in mid-October, said, "(Banking) is very flexible to get into. There's so much you can do, something different every day."

Family comes first at American National Bank, too. Regardless of how small the staff is, they work together to cover for one another when they need time off.

"If we need a day off, that's 25 percent of our staff gone," Baker said. But, "everybody chips in."