Tangeman reflects on five-generation legacy

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Bill Tangeman, fifth generation bank executive, has retired after 40 years of employment. His family legacy includes providing banking services to loyal customers for 120 years. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker 

Multi-generational family businesses usually feature a first generation entrepreneur whose vision succeeds well beyond their wildest dreams. The following generations grow up viewing their achievements with huge expectations and a strong desire to maintain and enhance the success of the original business model. 

Bill Tangeman, fifth generation bank executive, has retired after 40 years of employment in the family business. Tangeman, and his wife, Lori, are life-long residents of Guttenberg. The couple raised their children, Justin and Holly, in the loyal community that has supported the family business for the past 120 years. Although the bank's name has changed throughout the years, its location at 15 Goethe Street has remained the same. 

Henry Eckart

Henry Eckart, Tangeman's great-great-grandfather, was born Sept. 20, 1830, in Braunweiler, Germany. He learned the blacksmith trade in Germany and also served in the German Army as an artilleryman. Following his Army discharge he set sail for America, eventually making his way to Guttenberg. He was united in marriage with Dorothy Bennecku and from that union had 12 children. Henry was a notable businessman and was very active in public service in the community.  He was one of the chief organizers of the Guttenberg State Bank and at the time of his death was president of that institution.

J.P. Eckart

J.P Eckart, Henry's son, was also a prominent forward-thinking businessman, and was cashier and later president of The Guttenberg State Bank, an office he held until his death at age 65 in 1929. He assisted in the organization of the Guttenberg Canning Co.; Guttenberg Excelsior Mfg. Co., and Enderes Tool Co. His obituary read: "There never was a movement for the welfare of his town but what he was in it heart and soul." 

J.P Eckart most notably fought single-handedly for the improvement of the Guttenberg river channel. At the time the main channel covered a distance of about 14 miles. Eckart would row out on the river at all hours of the day and night in an effort to interest steamboat captains to sign a petition for the improvement of the Guttenberg channel. Had it not been for his vigilance and tireless efforts, Cassville Slough may have been selected as the main channel because of its depth, leaving Guttenberg completely cut off from the river. He was a champion for the Good Road Movement, for which he worked persistently throughout most of his life. 

Herbert Tangeman

J.P. Ekart's daughter, Agnes, married Herb Tangeman. "Grandpa Herb started working in the bank in 1928, shortly before great-grandfather passed away," said Tangeman. "Herb's parents, George and Louisa Tangeman, owned a dry goods store in Garnavillo." 

Herb remained dedicated to the family business for 63-years. "He loved his work so much. It wasn't a job it was a way of life," he chuckled. "After he retired he still put on a suit everyday and came to the bank. I think leaving grandma every day made for a better marriage." 

Rod Tangeman/Bill Tangeman

Herb's son, Rod, followed in his father's footsteps and remained committed to serving the community's banking needs. The bank's name was changed to Security State Bank in 1942, and People's State Bank in 2011.

Rod's son, Bill, eventually joined the successful family profession. "I always had an interest in business. I studied business at the University of Dubuque and started working at the bank in May of 1980," Tangeman shared. "I originally started out as a teller. My father told me it was important to learn the business from the ground up. He stressed the importance of meeting and greeting the people that support the business and helping them with their transactions."  He added, "My dad always said you have to know what goes on in the teller line. The tellers are the employees that make the bank. They meet and great the customers and represent the bank's first impression."

Tangeman would eventually move his way up the ladder to become a loan officer. He has seen many changes throughout the years, "When I started in the 80's we were just starting the process of changing over to computers," he said. "We have seen three computer conversions and upgrades since than. Each conversion has made improvements in record retention and offers the customer a better product." 

Tangeman began his career during the Farm Crisis. "I started when interest rates were at an all-time high. Now they could be reaching a sustainable all-time low," he remarked.  

Drive-up window and ATM

Many new innovations have made banking more efficient. "When I started there were no ATM machines. I remember reading 'Echoes of the Past' and the newspaper clipping talked about Security State Bank having the first drive-thru teller window in Clayton County in the 60's," he chuckled. "Debit cards, electronic payments, money transfers and other online technology have created easy access banking, but I fear it may not be as safe." 

Outstanding employees

Tangeman noted, "We have had such outstanding employees throughout the years. We have a lot of longevity – 30-40 years. The community is blessed to have these people to assist them with their banking needs. They are excellent workers, and our family has always been very appreciative of them all throughout the years. I wish I could name them all but there are too many to mention!" 

He added, "It has been these wonderful employees that have earned the public’s respect and gave our name a good reputation. I have always admitted to making many mistakes. I am grateful for these girls to correct my errors. My desire was to go one week without making a mistake but I never did,” Tangeman said with a hearty laugh. 

Loyal customers

“I can’t say enough about our loyal customers! We appreciate each and every one of them. I have even had a couple of calls from people who have done business with us throughout the years, wishing me a happy retirement. It has been an honor, and a privilege, to serve the community. Without their support we would not be in business,” Tangeman said with gratitude.

Retirement plans

“Looking ahead I have no set plans. My wife and I would like to travel, but our plans have been put on hold because of Covid-19. Spending time with our children and grandchildren will be at the top of our list. I like to fish, hunt, camp and ride motorcycles. I am looking forward to riding my Enduro bike more often,” Tangeman concluded.

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