BUHL — For 100 years, the Hamilton family has overseen Farmers Bank and adapted to many changes along the way.
After the bank opened in September 1917, J.C. Hamilton started as a cashier the following spring. In 1918, he bought the majority stock in the bank. In a letter to his parents that year, he wrote: “I believe this is the best producing country I have ever been in. They can raise all kinds of crops, and as fine of potatoes as one would wish to see.”
Four generations of the Hamilton family have continued the tradition of managing Farmers Bank. President and chief executive officer Mike Hamilton and his brother, Pat Hamilton, who’s vice president and chief information officer, have been working there since the 1970s.
Their sisters, Ann Lively and Kathy Amoth, also work at the bank. And the fourth-generation of Hamilton family members started taking job positions in 2014.
In September, Farmers Bank celebrated a huge milestone: its 100th anniversary.
The bank has six branches — in Buhl, Wendell, Jerome and three in Twin Falls — with the administrative office in Buhl. Assets total more than $438 million.
“I think where we separate ourselves from other businesses is a knowledge of all of our customers,” Mike said.
There’s a lot of competition among banks, he said, but added Farmers Bank strives to offer a higher level of service than its competition.
“We feel like we’ve stayed on the cutting edge of technology,” he said.
Over the years, that has included ATMs, and mobile and online banking. Two years ago, Farmers Bank converted into a state bank so it could be regulated at a more local level.
The bank is also heavily involved in its communities.
“They reach out,” Buhl Mayor Tom McCauley said. “They’re very active in their community, and do what they can to improve it and see it progress.”
It’s a major sponsor of the yearly Magic Valley Festival of Giving in Filer, which raises more than $200,000 each year for local nonprofits.
“The thing we like about that is all those donations go to local nonprofits or charities,” Pat said.
And beyond Christmastime, “we contribute heavily to local nonprofits throughout the year to support our communities,” Mike said.
Farmers Bank is a small town, family-owned bank, “yet they have donated probably hundreds of thousands of dollars to the community,” McCauley said, including for sports equipment, bleachers and renovations to recreational fields.
“They’ve just been incredibly generous, both as a family and as a bank,” he said.
A handful of bank employees have also held top city elected offices or served on local committees.
That includes retired banker Walt Nelson, who’s on the bank’s board of directors, who served as Gooding mayor. Jerome branch manager Dave Davis is the current Jerome mayor. Mike is a Buhl school board trustee. Pat is a member of the Buhl Economic Council.
The bank’s efforts are concentrated in the Magic Valley, Pat said, adding they’ll continue to adapt to meet customers’ needs.