By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Timothy Kent, Branch President at First Security Bank, fell in love with Big Sky and the community before he even had his first job interview at what was then called Big Sky Western Bank. He had spent years traveling the world, both in the Peace Corps and through work developing 40 golf courses across Asia, Europe and South America. When he took the job with the bank, the native Coloradoan was ready to settle under Montana’s spacious skies.
Big Sky Western Bank was founded by locals in 1990—Big Sky’s first-ever bank—and was purchased by Glacier Bancorp of Kalispell, then merged with First Security in 2018. Today they serve all of the Big Sky community’s banking needs. Explore Big Sky spoke with Kent about his time at First Security and why he loves the tight-knit community of employees he gets to work with each day.
This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.
Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, when did you come to Big Sky and what brought you here?
Timothy Kent: June of 2015 was my first introduction to Big Sky. At the recommendation of a good friend who lived here, I had applied for a job with Big Sky Western Bank. I was able to spend a weekend exploring the area, including fishing the Gallatin [River] for a Sunday morning and hiking in [Yellowstone National] Park. Before I ever made it to a formal job interview, I was hooked.
If that wasn’t enough, everyone I met within the bank, from upper management on, was welcoming and positive about the community, the lifestyle and what was happening here. I’m continually reminded how fortunate I am to now be a part of this community.
I’m a native Coloradoan from the very southwest part of the state. I grew up as part of a ranching and farming community but from an early age was interested in all things international. After a degree or two from Colorado State, I joined the Peace Corps and spent almost three years in North Africa working with the Agricultural Ministry of Tunisia. Following that, I gathered a degree in international business, moved to Northern California and started work at an international golf course design and construction company as CFO.
EBS: Tell me about the history of First Security Bank, when did it start? How/when did you become involved?
T.K.: The bank we call First Security in Big Sky traces its roots back to Big Sky Western Bank, which was formed by local Big Sky residents in early 1990. There was no bank here before that time which meant trips to Bozeman for businesses and individuals on a regular basis. Big Sky Western eventually expanded into Bozeman where it had four branches under that name and was purchased by Glacier Bancorp of Kalispell. Glacier Bancorp then purchased First Security Bank in 2018 and both banks were merged under the First Security Bank name with a total of eight branches. We are now part of the Glacier Bank family, which includes 15 divisions or sister banks which reach from Kalispell to Yuma, Arizona, mostly along the Rocky Mountains.
EBS: How big is your team and what do you love most about working with them?
T.K.: Here in Big Sky, we’re a relatively small team of about eight to nine people typically. However, with our support staff in Bozeman and the other branches in the Gallatin Valley, we are about 200 people total. That is a great combination of local service and knowledge, combined with an incredible resource pool to draw on.
And that describes what I like best about working at First Security Bank. The company culture supports one-on-one interactions with customers and taking the time to get to know everyone who comes in the door. Yet as part of a larger organization, we have the financial and knowledge resources to respond to most requests. It’s the best of both worlds.
EBS: What is the best part of working at FSB?
T.K.: These last two years have highlighted what a great community and colleagues I get to work with daily. We have all struggled with COVID and how our business models need to adjust so we can continue to deliver services in a safe manner. At the bank, we have had to close the lobby much more than I would like and customers have been great at using the drive-thru even on the coldest and most miserable days. The comment most often heard from customers is they hope the employees stay safe and healthy. That is a supportive community and in turn we’ve been able to continue providing essential services.
EBS: When you’re not at work, what is it you enjoy doing most?
T.K.: Back to where this conversation started—fly fishing the Gallatin! During warmer weather, that is where you’ll find me, unless I venture far afield and spend a day on the Madison. My son and I have started an annual backpacking trip in YNP, which has become something I look forward to each summer. If not fishing or hiking, then I’ll be on the downhill slope, classic cross-country skiing or I am just learning to skate ski. All the great things most people who live in Big Sky enjoy out our front doors.
EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
T.K.: Good businesses support their communities. It’s plain, simple advice, but easy to overlook in the day-to-day challenges every business owner or manager faces.
EBS: Anything else you’d like to tell the Big Sky community?
T.K.: This is a community that is facing a wave of development at a pace that few others have experienced. With all the opportunities that [growth] presents, there are an equal number of challenges. How we as a community address those issues will set the tone for generations of Big Sky residents to come. It’s not a matter of one interest group against another as we seek the best way forward, but all of us together as residents of the community that will find a common path to protect our resources and quality of life. I don’t know what that looks like, but I do know that it is different than what we have today and our ability to accept and define change will be key to Big Sky’s future. Big Sky will never be “like the old days” again, but it can continue to be a world-class community for visitors and residents.