Weather Forecast


Banking's gotten to be Ness' career

Jenny Ness is the new relationship banker at Associated Bank’s East Ellsworth office. Ness comes to the office from the bank’s Red Wing location. (Herald photo by Bill Kirk)

Jenny Ness was asked Wednesday why her new position at Associated Bank in East Ellsworth is called a relationship banker.

“You don’t want to see your customers just once and then not again,” Ness said.

The Hastings, Minn., native, who started at the local bank last month, said she intends to keep in touch with them at least every couple of months. There are always new things on which they can be updated, she said.

“I’ve already made a lot of calls to customers, letting them know I’m here,” she said about her day-to-day duties. She’s been regularly serving as a teller, too, because it’s a way to “meet-and-greet.”

Ness relocated to the east end bank from the chain’s Red Wing location to be nearer to her home and family. She’s noticed there’s not as much incoming customer activity here than there was in the larger community, hoping to change that. Jonas Gonstead, a former manager of the bank’s East Ellsworth branch, was her supervisor in the city to the south.

The new local relationship banker said she lives with her husband, Dan, in Maiden Rock, where he’s employed by Fairmount Minerals. They have a 14-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, and an 11-year-old son, Caleb. Both attend Ellsworth schools; she’ll be a freshman and he’s going into sixth grade.

Growing up in Hastings, Ness enjoyed singing and playing volleyball while in school herself, she said. She’s the daughter of the now-retired Dennis (from Cenex) and Mary (from Emily’s Bakery), and has a brother, John, who’s presently living in Ohio.

The 1999 high school graduate got a scholarship to UW-Stout in Menomonie, but never used it, she said. She had planned to major in elementary education, setting her sights on becoming a teacher.

“It was my idea,” she said, noting no one else in her family taught.

Then, her own family came along and Ness said she stayed home to raise them. After a few “little jobs,” her first more significant employment was at First State Bank in Red Wing. She held various positions there, ranging from teller to lending banker. She stayed for nearly four years.

“I was still using a typewriter three years ago,” she remembered of a past common practice.

A desire to grow prompted her to accept a post with Culligan in Red Wing, she said. She was mainly on the phone, setting up service calls for installations and repairs. Three technicians were on the staff.

“I missed actually seeing people,” she said to explain why she switched jobs again.

This time, it was to a larger bank in Red Wing—Associated, Ness said. She handled opening and servicing accounts, and assumed responsibilities other than teller. She was also the premier banker—a title she continues to hold at Ellsworth—to help people who carry larger balances in their accounts.

In her free time, Ness likes activities her family can do together, she said. Her daughter has gotten a first job—at Flat Pennies Ice Cream in Bay City—and her son, who has played baseball, plans to pursue cross-country. She said their parents can often be found supporting them.

She’s looking forward to a tailgate party at the bank on Saturday, Sept. 27, to benefit school supply needs for students at area schools.

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

(715) 273-4334