Location: Fargo, N.D.
Assets: $3.1 billion
No. of employees: 596
Chairman and CEO: Richard Solberg
Bell State Bank & Trust (number seven in the overall ranking) is number two in the category for banks with $3 billion to $10 billion of assets.

Comfortable shoes likely are near at hand for the CEO of Bell State Bank & Trust, Richard Solberg.

He personally delivers all year-end bonus checks to the bank's employees in the locations where they work. As he makes the rounds, he stops to thank employees for their hard work throughout the year.

Believing happy employees result in happy customers, leaders at Bell make an effort to keep workers smiling.

One way they do this is by having professional photos taken of employees with their families at Bell events like baseball games and "Kids Night with Santa." A photo is generally on each employee's desk by the next workday.

Hiring anniversaries are treated like a major event. Employees are invited to one of 12 luncheons during the year, based on whichever month they were hired. They also get a call from Solberg, on the anniversary of the day they were hired.

But the biggest smiles of all come from Bell's "Pay It Forward" program, which distributes money to employees that they then give to individuals, families or organizations in need. Full-time employees receive $1,000 each year, while part-timers get $500.

The program, which launched in 2008, recently expanded to allow others in the community to share the experience of paying it forward. Each Bell employee now chooses a customer, vendor or local resident, who then also receives money to donate.

Bell, founded in 1966, operates 20 branches in North Dakota and Minnesota, as well as wealth management offices in Idaho.

Next: Redwood Capital Bank

Previous: First Federal Savings and Loan

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