Building a financial Cornerstone: Cornerstone Bank expands from small facility to West Ridge

On a frontage road in north Dickinson sits Cornerstone Mortgage, perched between a few businesses with a small sign out front as it's only identifier.

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Scott Tschetter, Cornerstone Bank’s vice president of business banking, and Vaune M. Johnson, market president, stand in front of the empty bank vault at the under-construction Cornerstone Bank building located in the West Ridge area Wednesday in Dickinson. (Kalsey Stults/The Dickinson Press)

On a frontage road in north Dickinson sits Cornerstone Mortgage, perched between a few businesses with a small sign out front as it’s only identifier.

But in a few weeks, Cornerstone Bank will open its doors and with its unique architecture, the same problem won’t occur.

Cornerstone Mortgage currently employs four people. But, with the opening of its new building in the West Ridge development, the bank will be expanding in the near future and interviews have already begun.

The transition from their smaller offices to the much larger bank, which will house 14 offices as well as tellers, is one that they are all excited to take on.

Nancy Klatt, mortgage origination assistant, said it’s exciting to see the progress.


“It’s hard not to go over there and keep looking at the progress,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, there’s trim up in this office and tomorrow there will be trim up in this office, let’s go back.’”

Klatt said her family is just as excited as she is.

“It’s fun when we drive over to Menards or wherever we’re going, and the kids will look over and say, ‘That’s where your new office will be mom,’” she said. “So it’s fun to see my family excited for what’s coming also.”

The new location in west Dickinson is exactly where Cornerstone Bank wanted to be, market president Vaune M. Johnson said. Though the corner lot had previously been spoken for, she said “we were pretty excited” when it became available.

Throughout the process of construction, Johnson said the bank wanted its architect to employ as many local workers as possible.

“The architect that we selected specialized in banks so they are very efficient and creative,” she said. “The only stipulation that we put on them was when there was the opportunity for local labor or talent that is what we wanted to do.”

The reason for making the stipulation was easy.

“Banks have a responsibility to give back and this is one way that we can start giving back right away,” she said.


The four-person team doesn’t let their community involvement stop there.

“One of the corporate philosophies is that we be involved in the community.” she said. “Not that we just give money but that we give our time and talents so each of us, we have a small staff of four right now, and each of us are involved in different groups, different projects in the community. So we’re proud of that involvement.”

Though Cornerstone is new to the community, having been here a little less than two years, the current four employees have been in the banking and mortgage world in Dickinson for much longer.

Scott Tschetter, its vice president of business banking, and Johnson have 33 years experience between them. Klatt and mortgage consultant Pam Montee have a combined 29 years of experience - most of it in Dickinson.

Montee looked forward to the change after spending 19 years at a different bank.

“I decided toward the end that if you look at a map, I felt like a pin head in the midst of Dickinson, N.D., and I wanted my customers to be valued again and for myself to be valued too,” she said. “So after 19 years with the corporate bank, I decided to move to a community bank - an all-North Dakota-owned bank - and its been phenomenal ever since. I love what I do. I love coming to work everyday. I actually look forward to it.”

That’s something Johnson said Cornerstone wants its employees to feel. The bank’s corporate values are stenciled on its walls, and one is about respect.

“One of them is that we value who we work with,” she said. “Those values are pretty big at Cornerstone - treating each other with respect.”


Throughout the design of the building, that is something they kept in mind.

“I remember where Scott and I used to work, the tellers were always running space heaters because you stand still and you freeze when that door opens at the drive through,” she said. “It was uncomfortable.”

So, Johnson said the new bank will have additional floor heat that not only reaches tellers, but also customers who walk in from the cold.

“We want to see customers look forward to coming to the bank,” Tschetter said. “Some people don’t enjoy coming to a bank, but we’re friendly. We’ll meet you at the door. We’re going to make you feel welcome.”

With the doors set to be open sometime at the end of March or early April, Montee and Klatt are excited to see where the new opportunity takes them.

“A Realtor friend of mine told me a long time ago - and I’ll never forget the quote he said to me - he said, ‘Pam, when it’s raining, you better keep your bucket full because you never know when it’s going to stop raining,’” she said. “Do I think it might be a little challenging in 2016? It might be a little bit, but we’re up for the challenge. I’m not worried about it and we’ll continue to be blessed in the opportunity that we’ve been given.”

Laughing with each other, Montee and Klatt said, “Bring it on.”

The under-construction exterior of the new Cornerstone Bank in the West Ridge area of Dickinson is seen Wednesday. (Kalsey Stults/The Dickinson Press)

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