By Dan Bechtold, Editor
Dawn Covey was a fairly new bride when she started work at First Fidelity Bank 30 years ago.
She started work March 23, 1987, when it was known as Ranchers National Bank before becoming First Fidelity Bank in 1990.
Covey will be honored for her 30 years of banking on Friday, April 21 with an open house from noon to 3:30 p.m. The public is welcome to come to the bank, enjoy some cake and refreshments and visit with Dawn.
Covey says she is not planning to retire in the near future as she said “I’m too young to retire, at least I feel young most days!”
Originally from Claremont, SD in the northeast part of the state, she met her husband Craig Covey while they were attending South Dakota State University. They met when they were both part of the SDSU Livestock Judging Team. She recalls she graduated from college one weekend and the next weekend was her wedding. “It was probably crazy, but I wanted to get married on my birthday! I then came west with my husband to the Covey family farm in Hamill,” she said.
Covey cannot believe how fast the years have flown bye.
“Being a woman with an Ag degree in the 80’s was difficult and it took a bit of time to find a job.” When she started at the bank in 1987 she worked in the loan department. The bank promoted her to a loan officer and then she became a vice president.
Currently, she is vice president and lending operations manager.
When she first started at the bank there was not one personal computer in the building. All the bank notes were typed and the officers would dictate notes for the customer files. This all had to be done on a typewriter.
She remembers the first PC had a small screen, a big floppy disk, and it was on cart. It was shared by Covey and another loan officer and they would wheel that computer into each others office when it was needed.
Now, computers have made a huge difference in the banking industry and she says internet banking has also made a change. Covey noted that young people use debit cards and do other transactions on line so they do not see the younger generation coming into the bank as often.
Covey explained another big change in the past 30 years has been all the banking regulations. As lending operations manager, part of Covey’s job is overseeing procedures, making sure the bank is following all the regulations.
She noted that a security agreement for a farm loan used to be one page and now is seven pages long.
“I like to think what has not changed is our philosophy. We are a community bank and we value the importance of our customers. We don’t want our customers to ever feel they are just a number. We know them by name when they come into the bank and they are greeted by the staff at the bank. That is a big part of who we are here and an important part of my job.”
Covey reflects back on the all the customers she has worked with over 30 years and all of her current customers. “They become almost like family. You see people through good times, see them through bad times, and you work through situations together. You become very close,” she said.
Covey has worked with multiple generations of families and in some cases is working on the third generation.
It is a job she loves and it shows in her interaction with the public. First Fidelity Bank likes it employees to be involved in the community. This busy mother is involved in 4-H, has coached softball, helped with so many school and community events, plus is a supporter to her husband on the farm.
It is a busy life and Dawn would have it no other way. She is energetic and makes people feel comfortable around her.
Covey says the part she enjoys about the job is her fellow co-workers and her customers.
“I admire all the people I have worked with and we have always had good working relationships at the bank,” she said. Many of the people she worked with when she started at the bank have retired or will be retiring soon, “these co-workers were my mentors, great friends, and opened many doors for me. I have great admiration for each of them.”
Banking is a very confidential business and is it not something you can take home and discuss over the dinner table. “I have the philosophy that when I leave the bank my work has to stay here. I do not talk about my work at home or when I am out in the community. I hope my customers know that I consider their business very confidential.”
Covey got her real estate license in 1999 and has been involved in selling real estate. She recently upgraded to a brokers license.
Early on in her banking career, Covey went to a lot of training on federal regulations.
As a real estate broker, she has to have 24 hours of continuing education every two years.
Another big part of her job is working with Farm Service Agency utilizing their guaranteed loan program for farmers.
The Tripp County Community Foundation was started by the Lillibridge family, owners of First Fidelity Banks, in 1993. Covey has been on the board for several years and is currently the chairman.
The money the foundation has given out has helped the community in so many ways. There are 11 scholarships that are administered through the foundation. This all goes to help high school students further their education.
Covey’s other passion is 4-H. She grew up on a farm and was a 10 year member of 4-H. She was also a summer assistant at the Marshall Co. 4-H office for 4 years during college. That love of 4-H and helping young people continues today. All three of her children have been through the Tripp County 4-H program and participated in the Mid Dakota Fair, State Fair, and other 4-H events.
Covey has been a 4-H leader for over 20 years. When she first moved to the area she was co-leader of the Tripp Co 4-H Jr. Leaders. When her own children started 4-H she became a leader of the Hamill Hustlers 4-H Club. She is currently the president of the Tripp Co. 4-H Leaders Association and is the Treasurer for the South Dakota 4-H Leaders Association. In addition, she has served on the Tripp Co 4-H Trust Fund board and the Mid-Dakota Fair board.
The Coveys have three grown children. Clint Covey owns Covey Custom Application in Winner and his wife, Sarah, is a nurse in Mission. They have a daughter, Kenna, who is Dawn’s pride and joy. Clint and Sarah are expecting another addition to their family in September.
Carson graduated from SDSU with BA in Music Education and a minor Ag Business and is currently studying for his master’s degree in collaborative music at North Dakota State University. Carson will marry his fiancé Lexi Graber on Aug. 12.
Calah is finishing her freshman year at SDSU where she is majoring in ag communications and animal science.
Dawn and Craig Covey have been married for 32 years.
If she had not gone into banking Covey said she might have liked to have been an ag or business teacher. She used her knowledge of agriculture and served for one year as the interim advisor for the Winner High School FFA Chapter and truly enjoyed this experience.
Covey is thankful for her customers who have put their faith in her. She is also thankful for her family that has always supported her and God who in His plan brought her to Tripp County. “I have lived here longer than any place in my life and it is home. Family, friends, wonderful customers, great co-workers, and a loving community make it the best place for me to be.”
Come visit Dawn on April 21 at her open house.