Meet Our Board Members: Jim Wieland
James (Jim) Wieland
remembers having a bad case of nerves the first time he asked Bell Bank (then State Bank of Fargo) for a multi-family housing loan.
He needed $200,000 for a 10-plex and says he was “never so nervous in my whole life” as when he met with Richard Solberg, now the bank’s chairman, and Dean Wegenast, the bank’s first accountant, about the loan.
Jim got the loan – and began a working relationship that would span more than three decades.
“Richard was an old-style banker where character meant everything,” Jim remarks. “There were times when we were a young company where we might not have fit the formulas to get the loans, but Richard believed in us. I believe Bell extended credit to us when other banks wouldn’t have. Bell was very instrumental in our company’s growth. It meant a lot to have a banker who believed in us.”
Jim has always been interested in the banking industry. When he graduated from college in 1974, he wanted to be a banker, but there was a recession. He couldn’t find a job, so he went to graduate school.
He and Ken Regan started a company called Midwest Management in 1981, managing 66 apartment units. That business evolved into GOLDMARK, which manages just under 16,000 apartment units and includes GOLDMARK Commercial Real Estate, GOLDMARK Property Management and GOLDMARK Development Corporation. Jim is president and managing partner of the commercial real estate branch of the company. He is also active in the other divisions.
“I feel I’m so lucky,” Jim says. “I never bought a lottery ticket, because I already feel like I won it. I’m doing what I want to do. I’ve been my own boss for 35 years, and I make a good living. What more could you ask for?”
Though his career path veered away from the banking industry, Jim has served on Bell’s board for more than 30 years – a position he says he’s flattered to hold.
“It’s been a tremendous experience,” he says. “Other than building my own company, serving on Bell’s board has been the second most satisfying thing I’ve done. When I joined the board in 1985, it was a $42 million bank. Now it’s a $4.4 billion company. To see the growth of the bank and how the bank’s management has handled that growth has been a huge learning experience for me.”
That understanding has influenced how he runs his company, Jim says.
“My personality is to take care of my people anyway, but to see Bell go beyond what I would consider normal in taking care of its employees was really eye-opening for me,” Jim remarks.
Jim’s experience has also helped Bell grow in different directions. When he first became involved with the company, Bell had not financed any multi-family housing.
“I like to think I was instrumental in Bell starting to do that across the city, not only with my company but with others as well,” he says. “It’s been a huge privilege for me to be part of Bell Bank. I count it as one of the special blessings I’ve had in my life.”
A native of Jamestown, N.D., Jim has a bachelor’s degree in business economics and master’s degree in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University. He lives in Fargo and has three adult children: Nicole, Justin and Jaden. Jim has served on various boards, including the FarmHouse Fraternity national foundation, NDSU Teammakers, NDSU College of Business, Cass County Electric Cooperative, Northern Capital Trust, Production Publications Inc., the Walton Bean Cooperative, Dakota Renaissance Ventures, Space Age Technology and the Jamestown Community Hospital.
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