In 1990, when he was knee-deep in turnaround tasks at the ailing First Bank System of Minneapolis, John F. Grundhofer never would have believed that he would see assets more than triple in seven years. They doubled in 1997 alone.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that," Mr. Grundhofer said. "I've been in the industry for 39 years and it has changed more rapidly in the last five than any other time."

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