Tag Archives: Great Western Bank

The Law of the Land

June 9, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article originally published in Summer 2015 edition of B2B.

The awards and accolades keep coming Deryl Hamann’s way, but the 82-year-old Omaha attorney has a decisively modest take. “You stay around long enough and they have to recognize you.”

The latest honor was the 2014 Douglas E. Parrott Faith in Action Award from Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. Hamann is grateful and humbled by the recognition, but, he feels he isn’t doing anything extra. In fact, he’s enjoying the slower pace these days.

“I come to the office every day, but I don’t work very hard,” Hamann says from his office high up in the Woodmen of the World building. “Mostly I just ferry my wife around.”

Hamann still has some long-time clients he tends to. And he is always there to offer up advice as needed to the younger attorneys at Baird Holm, the firm he’s been with since 1959.

Yes, the praise is nice and all, but that’s not what drives Hamann. He’s still the Iowa farm boy who worked his way through law school and went on to become one of the state’s most respected experts on banking and corporate law, not to mention the CEO of a large banking organization. Hamann says he is driven by the satisfaction that comes from showing up to work each day and serving his clients.

It’s a work ethic learned on the dusty farmlands of his north-central Iowa youth.

Hamann learned early on that there is no substitute for hard work. If asked about the accolades, you’ll get some pleasant comments. But talk to him about those early years managing the local drive-in north of Fort Dodge, Iowa, or clerking for U.S. District Judge Robert Van Pelt, and you’ll get a sense of what drove Hamann to success.

The combination of work ethic and intelligence led Hamann into the banking business in 1971 with the purchase of a small bank in southern Iowa. That led to him becoming the chairman and chief executive officer of Great Western Bank, which grew to over 100 locations in six states before selling in 2008.

Hamann is also a trustee and past president of the Nebraska State Bar Association; former chairman of the board of trustees at Bellevue University; a director of the University of Nebraska Foundation and chairman of its Investment Committee; and, also, former chairman of the Bethphage Foundation. In 2011, he was designated Corporate Lawyer of the Year in Omaha by Best Lawyers in America.

“Those were pretty busy years,” he says of balancing his career and raising four children, and later, three stepchildren.

Hamann graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1956 as an undergraduate. He received his law degree in 1958, the same year he clerked for Judge Van Pelt, a man who he says had a big impact on him and his career path. “The phrase ‘a gentleman and a scholar’ could have been invented just for him,” Hamann says.

Hamann recalls his first job, cutting cockleburs with a corn knife and helping with the chores around the little farm “a quarter mile down a mud lane just off a gravel road.”

Growing up during the Great Depression taught Hamann the value in helping others. And in treating other people right. “There is great satisfaction in being able to help someone in need, especially when you grow up without much,” he says. “Back then, things were not that lush.”

Times have changed, no doubt. But for Hamann, some things are constant, like the value of lessons one learns early on and, hopefully, never loses sight of.

Deryl Hamman

Sharon Hyer

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When it comes to her work attire, Sharon Hyer, 53, is strictly business. But in no way does this mean the 20-year financial services veteran is ‘bearish’ on style.

“My office style is traditional,” says Hyer, vice president of Great Western Investment Center at Great Western Bank. “My goal is to keep my wardrobe simple and classic. Varieties of navy, gray, and black suits are my preference.” Von Maur is one of her favorite destinations for her high-end, elegant suits.

“I am not comfortable with ‘business casual.’ I don’t think I have ever worn short sleeves to the office,” says Hyer. “My customers expect me to be at the top of my game all the time. And I have found that if I stay polished in appearance, my mind stays sharp.”

Hyer does dress down on weekends, however. Though like her business attire, her casualwear is also well-coordinated with accessories. Form-fitting knits show off her great figure.

Hyer admits she requires a bit of mentoring when it comes to putting together fashion ensembles. “I have found a great little boutique called SKYZ [at The Shops of Legacy], where the owner actually helps me choose a modern blouse and jewelry to make my look polished. She can help me transform a classic day ensemble into a stylish outfit for an evening charity event (of which Hyer attends many).


“We all have areas in which we excel. I’ll stick with making money grow, and Shelley at SKYZ can keep me looking great!” Hyer jokes.

The borderline workaholic—“My family has threatened to conduct a work ‘intervention’”—and self-professed financial news junkie says her passion is building relationships with clients and helping them achieve their financial goals. Taking good care of herself is one way she’s able to keep up her frenetic pace and her look so fresh.

“At my age, it’s essential my daily beauty routine revolves around moisturizing.” In addition to cleansing with Cetaphil and daily use of Estée Lauder moisturizer, she runs a cool-mist humidifier in her bedroom at night. “I always wear sun protector, but I do get a spray tan once in a while. And I get my nails done professionally, probably because it is the only time I sit and do absolutely nothing.”

She also eats extremely healthy—“no fried foods, and I bring an apple or orange to work and eat a hard-boiled egg and peanut butter toast every morning…yes, every single day!”

To stay fit, Hyer also walks a lot, does some weight-training at home, and enjoys doing yard work for exercise. “I’m blessed genetically…I’ve been the same size as long as I can remember. But make no mistake, if my clothes fit tight, I hit the gym. I invest money in quality suits and have no intention of going up a size.”

Hyer’s got ’em both—beauty and brains. And that’s a big part of her appeal. “When I go to the office, I pop up the hair for a look of elegance and sophistication. I don’t believe it’s wrong to want to look both pretty and smart.”

Strict Banking Requirements

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Great Western Bank

With interest rates having been at all-time lows for over a year and forecast to remain at record lows for the foreseeable future, it’s likely that either you or someone you know has refinanced their home recently. But does the same hold true for commercial building owners? Have business owners and those with commercial leases been able to take advantage of such low rates? Have entrepreneurs seeking new loans been able to set their dreams in motion, even in these tough economic times?

According to Gary Grote, Omaha group president for Great Western Bank, while commercial loans may not have been impacted by the low rates as much as residential loans have, there still has been a significant effect in the commercial market.

“The difference between residential and commercial is that in the commercial loans…there may be pre-payment penalties that apply until the maturity day,” explains Grote. “So you can’t always just pick up the phone and…refinance on a whim like with a residential mortgage.” He does add that though it may not be as “easy” to refinance a commercial loan, “many people have already taken advantage of the low rates…and we continue to see opportunities.”

Craig Lefler, senior vice president and manager of commercial banking with Mutual of Omaha Bank, agrees with Grote, saying while there may be a few more obstacles for commercial loans to be refinanced, there are still ample opportunities for businesses to seek lower interest rates on existing loans. “A lot of commercial real estate loans are done by banks on a five-year type of basis and some of those, depending on the bank, may have a penalty for early payoff. That would certainly be a consideration for [when it comes to the] cost of refinancing the loan.”

“The difference between residential and commercial is that in the commercial loans…there may be pre-payment penalties that apply until the maturity day.” – Gary Grote, Great Western Bank

Both Grote and Lefler say that although rates are at historic lows and there are many opportunities available for commercial loans to be granted as well as refinanced, the process and underwriting standards are higher than ever.

“After the financial crisis, credit certainly tightened up and [banks] returned to more prudent, conventional underwriting standards,” says Grote.

Lefler agrees that there are more stringent standards and more in-depth analyses today than in the past. However, those are countered by the benefit of lower interest rates. “It’s a mixed bag,” he says.

Interest rates for commercial spaces are different than those for residential mortgages. Grote explains that the typical five-year loan originated from the trouble that the Savings and Loans went through in the 1980s. The S&Ls offered CDs for two to four years at fixed rates. They then would loan money at fixed rates for 10- or 15-year loans. “When the rates went up, they got burned because their cost of money increased but their loans were at a fixed rate.”

He shares that banks typically keep five-year commercial loans on their balance sheets while traditional home mortgages are sold off to other organizations.

“A lot of commercial real estate loans are done by banks on a five-year type of basis and…depending on the bank, may have a penalty for early payoff. That would certainly be a consideration for [when it comes to the] cost of refinancing the loan.” – Craig Lefler, Mutual of Omaha Bank

As another option, Grote says that some banks, such as Great Western, may offer certain clients 10– and 15-year fixed rates. But he says that this is a unique situation.

Thirdly, he shares that the Small Business Administration has a popular product called the SBA 504 Program, in which a portion of the loan allows the borrower to do a 10- or 20-year fixed rate. “So there are options out there, and it just kind of depends on the property and the borrower and where they’re at in their life cycle and what makes the most sense for them.”

Depending on whether the loan is for owner-occupied real estate or investor real estate, Grote explains that the lender will underwrite the occupant’s financial statements or the investor’s ability to rent space. Both men recommend that businesses have their financial records in order and ready to be submitted for review.

“Be organized and be able to quickly produce their financial statements in an organized fashion,” says Grote. “That helps banks respond quickly and be able to give good guidance and good answers.”

Lefler adds that, in addition to the financial records, the lender will also consider “the projection, going forward, of how the space will be used and ultimately, from the lender’s point of view, will the debts get repaid.

“My sense is that there is a feeling that banks are not willing to lend money on new business ventures and to projects like this, but I would say that this is not true,” says Lefler. “In our market, which is stable, banks play an active role in these spaces on a daily basis.”