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The staff at First International Bank in West Fargo. Dave Wallis/The Forum

First International Bank & Trust celebrates 100-year milestone

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First International Bank & Trust is 100 years old and celebrating the huge milestone with special open houses at its various metro locations.

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The financial institution was founded a century ago by brothers Odin and Gerhard Stenehjem, who grew up in Spring Grove, Minn., but relocated to North Dakota's McKenzie County in the early 1900s, enticed by the offer of 160 acres of free land.

As the county they farmed in grew, they saw the need and opportunity for a bank, with the pair opening their first - Farmers State Bank at Arnegard, N.D. on May 1, 1910, with Gerhard serving as president.

In 1934, the business was moved to Watford City, N.D. and became First International Bank.

In 1984, the Stenehjem family acquired several other banks, and in 1992 the business was renamed First International Bank & Trust, which now operates 21 locations in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Arizona, with three of them in Fargo, and one in West Fargo.

On January 7 of this year, the fourth-generation banking enterprise reached $1 billion in assets.

Today, seven Stenehjem family members remain involved in operating First International, with Stephen Stenehjem serving as chairman and CEO, and the combined financial institutions having approximately 350 employees.

The West Fargo First International Bank & Trust welcomed its first customers in 2000.

Greg Mastrud came on board nearly seven years ago, serving as vice president until last fall when he was promoted to president of the West Fargo location, which presently has 15 employees.

Mastrud said he is excited about the 100 anniversary milestone and proud of the locally-owned operating commitment the institution maintains in the communities in which it serves. "100 years for a company doesn't happen very often," Mastrud added. And even with the growth that we've encountered, we continue as local-decision makers, and our customers really value that. Their success is our success, and we look forward to the next 100 years of service to our communities."

Mastrud added that the Stenehjem family and the First International Bank & Trust institution have also always been strong believers in being involved in the communities in which they serve, with employees always encouraged to take pride in participating in community endeavors they have a passion for.

On that note, Mastrud encourages everyone to stop by any of the local First International Bank & Trust locations to take part in the special open house activities being planned in conjunction with the 100th anniversary milestone.

The celebration at the southwest Fargo location at 4501 40th Ave. S., Fargo, will be held Tuesday, May 25, and the West Fargo observance at 1350 13th Ave. E., will take place Wednesday, May 26.

A complimentary barbecue lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m at each of these locations. There will also be a gold ticket car giveaway contest where guests will receive a chocolate candy bar entry that could result in being the winner of a new car.

Convenient banking hours at the West Fargo First International Bank & Trust location are: drive-up, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; lobby, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for both the drive-up and lobby.

Phone inquiries can be made by calling 701-281-2700.

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