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Valley Bank Celebrates 60 years in downtown Kalispell

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| March 17, 2024 12:00 AM

Sixty years ago Somers State Bank moved to downtown Kalispell and became Valley Bank. Today, the full service bank provides small business, real estate, farming, and ranching loans, and promises to invest money back into the local community. 

The bank’s current president and one of its owners, Mark Hensley, took over as president in 2021. His father, Jack Hensley, retired in 2009 at 84 years old. The generational legacy of Valley Bank lives on as Mark’s son and niece, Logan and Chloe Hensley, who work alongside him. Though Mark Hensley graduated from University of Montana with a degree in business and an emphasis in finance, he says that he is really “in the people business.”

“Customer service and protecting our customers’ money is the highest priority,” said Hensley. “You can develop close and personal relationships here. This is a true community bank.”

A previous Safeway grocery store, the bank has continuously remodeled its building on Third Street West over the years to stay true to its Montana roots.  From the collection of antique Winchester rifles mounted on the walls to the coin operated pony affectionately named Sandy and the historical European bar imported from an old world hotel, Hensley said the lobby is a welcoming environment. 

“I can see the teller line from my office and I'll see people come in and if I haven't seen them for a long time, I'll jump out and say hi. We have great staff and I think people like the consistency and the personality,” he said.

The original charter of Valley Bank was established as State Bank of Somers in 1911. Five employees served the bank in its first building in a small spot in downtown Somers.

As Hensley has been with the bank during the digital revolution, he said that learning to marry the old school with the new school has been one of the bank's biggest hurdles. 

“Right after I came on, they started putting computers in. Technology is very convenient, and safety can be an issue, but we center everything around protecting our customers,” he said.

By the end of the year, a full service Valley Bank location will be added in Eureka as Hensley said that the town fits the bank’s demographic in terms of community and culture. While Eureka isn’t growing at the same pace as the Flathead Valley, Hensley said the growth is there, and warrants an upgrade to the town’s current loan production office. 

Despite the bank’s small size, Hensley said that they were one of the only banks in Montana to grow in 2023 during what was considered a turbulent year.

“Last year we were number four in Montana despite a challenging year of rising rates and inflation. We did really well compared to other banks,” Hensley stated. “We’re right behind the big guys.”

Last year, S&P Global Market Intelligence named Valley Bank as one of the Best Performing Community Banks of 2022 with assets under $3 billion. Valley Bank was ranked in the top 100 for banks of the category.

Hensley emphasized the importance of banking locally.

“The money stays here and we invest it back into our community,” he said. “We donate to the local bands, choir, football teams, and other programs. We don’t really make donations outside of the county because our money is made here and stays here.”

Valley Bank of Kalispell is located at 41 Third St. W. Call 752-7123 or visit www.valleybankmt.com.

Reporter Summer Zalesky may be reached at szalesky@dailyinterlake.com.


Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Mark Hensley is one of the owners of Valley Bank and that he took over as president in 2021. 


    The Valley Bank staff in the 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Valley Bank)
 
 
    The inside of Valley Bank in 1964. (Photo courtesy of Valley Bank)