Hershey State Bank is under new ownership for the first time since its doors opened 51 years ago, but it is staying local.
Ken Niedan; his wife, Connie Niedan; and brother Dean Niedan were at the bank’s helm since the beginning. Dean Niedan died in August 2016. The bank now has two locations, the original in Hershey and one in North Platte.
The new ownership group is Vern Ehlers and his wife, Kelly; Hershey branch president Kaye Monie; and North Platte branch president Thomas Murphy. They hold 80% of the company’s stock.
Vern Ehlers and his wife already owned the affiliated Hershey Agency. Vern Ehlers said that when Ken Niedan talked to him about wanting to make a change, he knew he was interested.
Ehlers said it took about a year to figure out all of the logistics of the sale and make the transition.
Vern Ehlers said when he heard Ken Niedan was going to sell, everyone at the bank was concerned about who would be the prospective buyers. He said that they didn’t want the community bank to change. When he asked Niedan the price, he said, he concluded that he could make it work.
Vern Ehlers said that he expects Monie and Murphy will run the bank day to day as he and his wife still own the agency.
“We feel blessed to keep it locally owned and operated, and with Vern stepping up to the plate on purchasing that it allows us to do that,” Monie said.
Monie and Murphy have worked for Hershey State Bank for 20-plus years, she said, and keeping the ownership local has allowed them to stay with the bank and make decisions based on the town.
“Especially in a community like Hershey where it is small town and people can know you and rely on you, it is important that they know you,” Monie said.
With an overpass now dividing the town, “we need to work together to keep the community strong,” she said.
The bank is 100% Lincoln County owned, Vern Ehlers said, which allows them to make decisions based on what’s happening here.
“What we do impacts us, how goes Lincoln County is how goes Hershey State Bank,” he said. “Those other organizations may have a good footprint here, but they have operations going elsewhere.”
Ehlers said the ownership group expects to stay with the two locations, and do not have any plans to grow and become a multistate organization.
“We look to build on our successes and grow our little bank,” Ehlers said.
Monie said that they have seen positive feedback from the customers for staying local and continuing to be a community bank.