When Steve Strunk turned 16, he got a job at the local A&P Grocery Store in upstate New York — to earn money to invest in the stock market. Fully intending to be a stockbroker, he worked on political campaigns and the Ford Pinto marketing campaign to pay his way through college.
But, after graduation, he ended up working for the largest bank in Texas — and hasn’t looked back since. During 34 years of commercial banking, he has learned how to acquire strong or failing banks, and was “one of the first genres of special assets managers.”
But for those who think Strunk is all business, he’s been known to bring his 7-pound, white Maltese, a veritable princess named Bitty-Pooh, to the bank — where she perches on his shoulder awaiting royal attention.
He took time recently to tell CSBJ about himself and his business.
Organization: Kirkpatrick Bank
Position: President, Colorado market
Hometown: Schenectady, N.Y.
How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Two-and-a-half years
Education: I have a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and am a graduate of the Southwestern School of Banking at Southern Methodist University.
A few words about your company: The Kirkpatrick family has lived in Colorado for five generations and the family’s history in banking began during 1918 in Oklahoma. Christian Keesee is the chairman of Kirkpatrick Bank and of Kirkpatrick Oil Co. His grandfather, Adm. John E. Kirkpatrick, owned business interests in manufacturing, oil and gas, and banking. Kirkpatrick Bank’s Colorado operations represent less than 20 percent of the total company. The plan is to increase the size of the Colorado operations to 50 percent of the company.
Recent accomplishments: I have been provided the opportunity to lead the growth and development of a highly capitalized bank which has strong ownership and great moral values.
Biggest accomplishment: Successfully leading due diligence teams to acquire both good banks and failing banks.
The toughest part of your job: Declining a loan request from someone who is a good person.
Someone you admire: Jeff Dunn, who is the mastermind behind the development of The Palisades at Broadmoor Park. This project represents Jeff’s “Picasso” of creating a retirement lifestyle alternative which will become the national prototype for improving the physical and mental health of seniors.
About your family: My wife, Cathy, is my soul mate, best friend and the love of my life. Gary, our son, is a senior engineer with WiQuest in Dallas.
Something else you’d like to accomplish: To earn the respect of the people of Colorado as their “go to” banker.
How your business will change during the next decade: There will be fundamental changes in the ownership, regulation and role of financial institutions within the American economy. Since the federal government has decided to exert a heavy hand, the outcome is unpredictable other than there will be significant winners and significant losers.
What book are you currently reading? I’m re-reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.
What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? Nothing. Instead of dwelling on what is wrong, I think that we should all celebrate our community’s strengths and make a conscious effort to do something on a daily basis which makes it a better place to live.