A Century of Growth

“You’ve got to look for places that people don’t do things.” This quote by Jay Dunlap, founder of Union Bank & Trust (UBT), has always been the bank’s philosophy—find a way to help customers where others can’t. This third-generation, family-owned bank has a century-old history founded on hard work and strong relationships built on trust.

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After decades of acquiring small banks in Nebraska and capitalizing on opportunities during industry downturns, UBT is now the largest bank in Lincoln, NE. The company continues to focus on growth. In addition to its location on 177th and West Center Road, UBT opened a 5-story, 137,000 sq. ft. flagship location at the Heartwood Preserve in Omaha last fall. With a full suite of banking services that includes a retail branch and drive-thru, commercial lending, investment, and trust services, UBT is poised to take care of its customers, employees, and the community—a motto etched in stone outside the new Omaha building.

Three generations have led UBT—Dunlap started the bank, his daughter, Angie Muhleisen is the current UBT CEO & President, and her son, Jason, will one day take over the helm. Each generation brings their unique talent, but Dunlap’s original management style has been passed down and embraced by his family.

Tom Weinandt, UBT’s regional president, described that style as “entrepreneurial, accessible, and nimble.” Management has an open-door policy to answer questions and find solutions quickly and easily. “We want our employees to be creative with ways they can help our customers, and having accessibility to anyone in the company helps them quickly do that,” he said. 

“Empowering” is a word that John Sutera, UBT’s vice president, Trust Administration, added to the list of the company’s management style. “They empower employees to do what they need to do,” he explained. “They remove the obstacles by giving them the resources they need. And if an employee has a new idea, [management] encourages them to share it.”

Sutera said he’s never experienced that type of accessibility and flexibility before—communicating with management was nearly impossible and opening a simple business checking account could take up to 10 days at previous jobs. At UBT, he said it’s as easy as sending an email or walking into someone’s office, and with proper documentation, they can open an account the same day. “We can get things done, do it right, and do it efficiently.”

A bank with UBT’s longevity translates to employees that have extensive experience and knowledge. Some UBT employees in Lincoln have been with the bank for 45 years. Both Weinandt and Sutera have more than 35 years each in the banking industry, both in the Omaha market. The industry goes through cycles, and that kind of experience not only helps customers but helps younger employees learn the cycles as well. “We’re proud of the longevity of our employees, and it’s a testament to the organization that people are willing to stay so long,” Weinandt said.

UBT’s team-oriented culture is what enables the company to have its “yes” mentality. No matter what the customer needs, they’ll do their best to find a solution. “It may be a different solution than what they’re used to, but we’ll find a way to make both sides happy,” Sutera said. Within his wealth management division, Sutera works with a lot of families on multigenerational planning. He has a family in which he worked with the father, son, and now opened an account for the newborn grandson. “I know everything about that family, and it’s amazing. They know they can call me, and if I don’t know the answer, I can immediately ask Tom or someone else and they can help find a solution.”

Because UBT has a wide footprint in Lincoln, it opened its newest location in Omaha to increase visibility and growth in the market. According to Weinandt, that growth starts with hiring good people. “We attract good people by having a good culture that people like,” he said.

Some of the perks of working at UBT include lunch that is provided four days a week, a wellness program that includes fitness classes, heart health, wellness webinars, and community involvement. Philanthropy has also been a Dunlap family value, and UBT is eager to support causes that are important to employees and customers.

Building relationships with customers is just as important as building them with employees. UBT’s family culture encourages and empowers employees to show they care, whether it’s sending a note because a client’s son played well in a high school football game or calling a client to wish them a happy birthday.

Sutera said enabling their employees to be on the front line is the best way to foster those relationships. “Our employees are experts at what they do, so we let them do the work and get to know the customer. Being entwined with the customer builds loyalty.”

UBT expects to continue to build that customer loyalty in the Omaha market. Both Weinandt and Sutera have no doubt the company is well positioned and flexible enough to handle any client’s diverse needs. Weinandt concluded, “We’re a full-service bank with local decision-making ability. We are hard-working, honest, and look for clients who can grow with us. We’re here for you and our goal is to find a way to get it done.” 

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