Dahlheimer is fifth generation at Osakis First National Bank
While many Osakis graduates can't wait to "get out of Osakis," one OHS alumnus is thrilled to be back home.
Justin Dahlheimer recently joined the First National Bank (FNB) Osakis as the fifth generation of his family to work at the hometown business.
He is the newest loan officer at FNB Osakis. He will work alongside his mother, Christine Engebretson, and grandfather, Newman Olson, Jr.
Dahlheimer finished graduate school in May, bringing his expertise back home just one week later.
He received a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota after completing his undergraduate studies in economics and history at Hamline University.
In addition, he spent three years working for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance - an experience he said he will carry into his life in Osakis.
With what he calls a "public affairs mentality," Dahlheimer said he hopes to be an advocate for spending more time and dollars in Osakis.
Leaving the nest
Like any 18-year-old, he was anxious to spread his wings, although today he said it was pretty easy to head off to the big city when he was going to a small, familiar college - Dahlheimer was the fourth generation of his family to attend Hamline.
He admits he always hoped to move back to Osakis someday.
"I felt very well-rounded coming out of Osakis," he said. "While in high school many students think it's small here, yet we were actually exposed to a lot. Being able to participate in three sports, Knowledge Bowl and so many other activities in high school made me a sort of 'jack-of-all-trades,' unlike those who come from a large school and need to pick one activity at a very young age and that's it."
He returned to Osakis alone, but his wife of six months plans to relocate to Osakis in the next few months.
Dahlheimer said he's looking forward to finding a home in Osakis, walking to work and someday sending his children to school here.
The simplicity of transitioning from balancing big city life, graduate studies and a job to the quiet life of working 8 to 5 in Osakis surprised Dahlheimer.
Returning to the bank was just as much a homecoming as moving back to the area for the man who practically grew up at FNB.
He remembers doing homework in the bank basement while waiting for his mom to finish work.
He said he had a little exposure to banking at a young age, working at the bank part-time while he was in high school.
The familiarity takes care of most nerves associated with a new job. Instead of trying to remember new names and faces, Dahlheimer has enjoyed reconnecting with familiar faces.
He's also thankful his co-workers are receptive to the things he brings to the table, although he said he's learning much more from them.
"They've been very good about making sure I'm getting adjusted," he said. "Everyone here is making it as easy as possible."
It's all about community
While some of his city friends may find the atmosphere of the local bank "small" Dahlheimer said that's one of its best qualities.
He compared it to large banks within the industry that continue to create distance between the customer and banker, something he thought might begin to happen here with the advent of Internet banking, but not so.
"The first thing I noticed is the activity in our lobby," he said. "People like to come in, say hello to everyone and do their business. That helps us build equity and trust in the community."
Dahlheimer's pride in FNB Osakis is evident as he talks of the bank's strong history.
"My grandfather was here through the 80s and the farm crisis - very similar to what's happening now with real estate," he said. "He's got the knowledge to be very conservative - putting people into loans they can afford."
While the bank may be small, Dahlheimer credits it for becoming more efficient over the years, allowing its customers to access online services and continuing to maintain its presence as a community bank.
One of the best parts of living and working in a small community is seeing people in an informal setting, he explained. He remembers enjoying seeing his teachers outside of school and now looks forward to connecting with his customers outside the bank.
Once he gets settled, Dahlheimer looks forward to getting involved in the community, such as the local Lions Club and heading out to the golf course.
"It's about knowing people and understanding their situation," he said. "We are all part of the same community with the same goal."
His biggest challenge has been accepting the idea that his place is working in the "family business."
"We all want to think we're going to go out and do something different," he said. "Then you reach a point when you realize you need to do what fits - and finding my place here is a perfect fit."
The Osakis Review and the Echo Press are owned by Forum Communications Company.