More than one hundred years ago, a group of men consisting of a farmer, doctor, pharmacist and merchant, among others, joined together in a single cause: to invest in the community by creating a local bank that would serve the needs of American Fork’s citizens. The group’s venture was realized on February 5, 1913 when the People’s State Bank of American Fork was incorporated. A century later, the financial institution—now Bank of American Fork—is Utah’s community bank leader.
The first two decades after opening brought success for the bank under the leadership of President John F. Noyes, and its reputation for being safe and sound was solidified. Customers put their trust in the bank’s founders, who were well-respected men known for their integrity and work ethic. Challenges came in 1932, when the People’s State Bank of American Fork closed its doors to prevent a run on deposits. While a third of the nation’s banks did the same and never reopened, the People’s State Bank was open for business nine months later after tremendous sacrifice on the part of its management. They and other shareholders raised substantial sums of money—some by mortgaging their own homes—to keep the institution afloat. Joseph Storrs was president of the bank during this tumultuous time and worked tirelessly alongside bank cashier Clifford Young to keep the bank viable. Young became the bank’s third president in 1949.
The 1940s and ‘50s were better years for banking, and the People’s State Bank of American Fork thrived. The bank was guided by an able board of directors, including Edith Christensen. Christensen was the first female on the board and eventually had a 51-year-long career with the bank.
Following the death of Clifford Young in 1958, longtime employee and then Chairman of the Board, Warren Anderson, was appointed president. His tenure, however, was brief. After Anderson’s passing just four months later, Clifford “Kip” Young was named the bank’s fifth president. Young, whose father had played such a pivotal role at the bank during previous decades, also had a brief presidency; he served for just three years before turning the reins over to Orville Gunther, who served as the bank’s sixth president from 1962-1975.
It was under Gunther in the 1960s that the bank proved itself a technological leader when it made a large investment in upgrading to advanced computerized systems. Gunther also led the charge to change the name of the bank to Bank of American Fork, institute drive-through banking, hire the company’s first advertising agency, offer credit cards and expand outside of American Fork.
In 1971, bank president Orville Gunther and his son Dale Gunther purchased the shares of Clifford Young’s family members, moving controlling interest of the bank to the Gunther family. This was shortly after Orville rejected an acquisition offer from Tracy Collins Bank and Trust in favor of continued personal ownership. These two decisions gave Orville and Dale a renewed commitment to see the bank succeed.
The bank’s first branch opened in Alpine in 1974. It was one of the first in Utah to offer 24-hour ATM access. Shortly after the branch’s opening, Gunther became chairman of the board and Glen Anderson became Bank of American Fork’s seventh president. Anderson oversaw the bank’s operations, which began to receive national recognition in the ‘80s, including being named by the Bank Administration Institute as one of the nation’s top-performing banks.
In 1988, Glen Anderson retired after a 40-year-long career at Bank of American Fork. Dale Gunther was appointed president. During his 16-year tenure, Gunther led the bank in its strategic expansion across Utah County, opening branches in Orem, Highland, Lehi, Pleasant Grove and Spanish Fork. He also commenced formal business operations in Salt Lake County with branches in Draper, Sandy and Murray, bringing the total number of branches to 10.
Gunther also increased the visibility of Bank of American Fork with unique marketing tactics that included flying the iconic hot-air balloons at community events and using award-winning floats in local parades. Brand recognition increased, as did the honors for being one of the country’s best banks.
During the late 90’s, Bank of American Fork’s success was capped off with one of the most prestigious ratings in the industry. Veribanc, an independent bank-rating firm, awarded the bank a blue-ribbon rating. It was the only bank in Utah to receive the honor and only one of 76 in the nation, placing in in the top four percent of banks in the United States. Bank of American Fork was Utah’s strongest and safest bank, and the marketing campaign highlighted this.
Today, Bank of American Fork continues to grow under the leadership of Richard Beard, who became the bank’s ninth president in 2005. Since his appointment, the bank has more than doubled in asset size and expanded from one end of the State to the other. Learn more about the current growth by visiting our People's Intermountain Bank Community-Banking Family page.
Throughout its century-long existence, Bank of American Fork has experienced various economic cycles and financial climates. The bank successfully made it through the financial hurdles of the Depression and several other recessions since then, due in large part to outstanding leadership and the founding philosophy of serving as a steward of the community’s wealth. This philosophy continues to be practiced today and has resulted in a reputation for offering big-city banking options with small-town service. We look forward to renewing this commitment to customers and the community that will lead Bank of American Fork into another century of serving Utahns with exceptional care.
A hard-bound history of Bank of American Fork's first one hundred years is available at the bank and some Utah libraries. It is titled, Bank of American Fork: Celebrating 100 Years of Community Banking.