If you missed Rotary today, you missed a free gift in addition to missing great fellowship and a dynamic program!
President Chuck Whitaker, Whitaker Sports and Classic Cars, called the meeting to order at 12:23. David Laird, MN Private College Council, led the club in singing God Bless America with Dr. Bob Jones, DDS retired, at the ivories.
Bob’s daughter, Past President Carla Hauge, Hauge Dental Care, offered an inspirational moment about how quiet thoughts lead to meditation and faith, which lead to caring, which leads to service, which leads to peace.
Mindee Kastelic, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, introduced visiting Rotarians and guests of Rotarians.
Thanks to Christian Weinhagen, Weinhagen Tire, (along with daughter Frankie and wife Martha) and Donovan Schwichtenberg, St Paul College, who warmly greeted at the door. Today’s scribe was Michael-jon Pease, Park Square Theatre.
David Laird led the club in a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday for the month’s birthdays, complete with cheers from Ruth Watkins, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.
Chad Roberts, Ramsey County Historical, Society, encouraged members to sign up for next week’s Rotation Day at RCHS in the Landmark Center or the Minnesota Opera Center (where there will be costumes and singing!). Carla Hauge encouraged members to considering hosting members of the incoming Group Study Exchange (GSE) team the last week of April. The group is coming from Timor Australia.
Brianna Vujovich, Dignity Memorial (President Chuck will be able to pronounce that name by the end of his term – he promised!) encouraged members to join Camp RYLA for the BBQ at Camp St Croix and to volunteer for the Feed My Starving Children packing event in Eagan that day.
Lindsay Weir, MN Wild, said there are tickets available for Rotary Night at the Wild on April 4. Anyone selling 8 tickets or more will receive autographed swag!
Mindee Kastelic collected generous happy dollars from Ruth Watkins ($20!) announcing the April 11 GTCYS concertino concert; Michael-jon Pease announcing Park Square Theatre’s journey to the Humana Play Festival in Louisville later this week to scout plays; Dan McKeown letting us know that the weather forecast is perfect for our club fellowship day June 13 at the White Bear Yacht Club; and Carley Stuber reminding members of the membership challenge. The winner will receive a pair of tickets to La Bohème!
Jay Pfaender, Drake Bank, introduced today’s speaker, Don Stoltz, CEO of Spire Credit Union. Stoltz’s accomplishments include being the first person to serve as King Boreas of the Winter Carnival and Commodore the Acquatennial in consecutive years. His Prince of the West Winds was our very own Christian Weinhagen! A recent survey ranked Spire in the top 5 of Minnesota banks for brand awareness – no small feat in a field that includes giants like US Bank and Wells Fargo!
Spire was started in 1934 by Edgar Archer, who was unable to get a $50 loan from another source, so he opened the credit union. By 2010 the company had hit the $500 million mark, but was losing money and hit hard by the recession. At that point, Stoltz was brought in and began working with the marketing team on a branding strategy. Their first need was a cool vehicle for parade appearances. At first, the idea of the 1952 blue Ford pick-up (with a corvette engine) seemed crazy, but it became the centerpiece of the new brand, built on old fashioned values and personal service. The truck is now known as “Archie” in honor of the company’s founder.
Building from that new direction, the company just doubled in size to $1 billion with 16 branches in Minnesota and 250 employees opening 40-50 new accounts every day.
Stoltz streamlined the company’s verbose mission to the easy to remember tenets of
  • We Care!! (core value)
  • Improve Lives (purpose)
  • Best in Minnesota (vision)
Stoltz shared a few examples of their TV commercials, which put him in the truck visiting with real customers around the state. They focus their broadcast campaign on nightly news across the networks and film six new commercials every year (they now have a library of 30).
While the company trends are all positive, Stoltz stressed that you can’t attach a concrete ROI to a branding campaign. It’s a long term investment and you have to be “all in.” For Spire that includes the truck, the parades, the commercials, their new “reverse food truck” (which gives away water and collects food donations at community events), and the shiny blue truck piggy banks every Rotarian left with today.
Stoltz’s guidelines for branding:
  • Be unique – original – meaningful
  • Listen to others and test your ideas
  • It’s not about ROI, but long term commitment
  • Don’t be afraid to fail
  • Stay fresh
  • Have fun!
In closing, he said that for him success takes being a “go-getter” and a “go-giver”. When asked what differentiates Spire, he said it really is the brand and the fact that they don’t just talk about personal service, but live it. They do have great rates (just 3.5% for a home equity loan) and offer $100 to each new account holder. They don’t tout these attributes, however, focusing instead on the key brand messages of “looking big and acting small.”
Thanks Jay for putting together another great program!
Respectfully submitted,
Michael-jon Pease

Michael-jon Pease