Bell State Bank & Trust Names New CEO

(From News Release) Bell State Bank & Trust's board of directors has named Michael Solberg, 42, the company's third chief executive officer (CEO) in its nearly-50-year history. As Bell's president and CEO, Solberg will assume roles previously held by his father, Richard Solberg, 68, who has served as the bank's chairman and CEO for the past 32 years. Richard Solberg will continue to serve as board chairman of Bell State Bank & Trust, the largest independently owned bank in the Dakotas and Minnesota.

As president of Bell State Bank & Trust since 2008, Michael Solberg has helped lead the company's continued growth, acquiring the Minneapolis-based Bell Mortgage, rebranding the company as Bell State Bank & Trust, developing the bank's footprint in the Twin Cities metro area and expanding its wealth management division, which offers trust, investment and 401(k) services.

In 2007, Solberg initiated the bank's Pay It Forward program, which empowers employees and community members to give money to individuals, families
and organizations in need. To date, the program has awarded more than
$6 million to help people in need both regionally and around the world.

Raised in Finley and Fargo, N.D., Michael Solberg is a graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., and William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minn. He started his financial career at State Bank of Fargo in 1998. Solberg is chairman of the board of Prairie Heights Community Church in Fargo, a member of the Concordia College Board of Regents, and a board member for the Bush Foundation in St. Paul and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He and his wife, Charleen, live in Fargo with their three children.

Richard Solberg was named CEO of State Bank of Fargo in 1982 and became a major shareholder, along with Thomas L. “Buck” Snortland and his son, Thomas M. “Mickey” Snortland, both farmers from Sharon, N.D., and daughter Laura (Snortland) Fairfield. Under Solberg’s leadership, the bank expanded from a single north Fargo location with $28 million in assets to 20 full-service locations in North Dakota and Minnesota, with assets of more than $3 billion.

A native of Finley, N.D., and a graduate of Concordia College, Richard Solberg started his banking career in Grand Forks, then served as president of Citizens State Bank in Finley before joining State Bank of Fargo. Solberg was the first chairman of the board of the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. He also served on the Concordia College Board of Regents, and he received the college's Alumni Achievement Award in 2006. He and his wife, Jo Ellen, live in Fargo.

While he plans to continue involvement with Bell State Bank & Trust on a part-time basis, Richard Solberg said the timing is right to pass the torch of strategic leadership to his son.

"Michael and I have shared a common belief in doing all we can to create a place where people sincerely like coming to work and are proud of their company," he said. "When that happens, without question, our employees go out of their way to give great service and do everything they can for our customers."

"I have been blessed to work alongside my dad and so many amazing people who have created a culture of service and giving that impacts lives inside and outside our company," commented Michael Solberg. "With the support of the Snortland family and our board, we have been able to focus on doing what's right for our customers and employees, not just the financial bottom line. We are committed to moving forward as a locally owned bank for many years to come."