Business leader imparts ’employees first’ attitude

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Steve Lundgren gives his acceptance speech after for the 2017 Business Leader of the Year event at the Westmark Hotel on April 15. Lundgren is the president and CEO of Denali State Bank. “The real highlight of this to me was to get to know the students and spend time with them over the last few months,” Lundgren said. Josh Hartman/ Staff Writer Photo credit: Josh Hartman

Steve Lundgren would rather speak about the accomplishments and hard work of his co-workers and employees than his own, according to students and other attendees during the 2017 Business Leader of the Year dinner and award center.

Lundgren, who is the president and CEO of Denali State Bank, received this year’s award, making him the 41st business leader of the year.

“Nobody has any success in business by themselves, you have to genuinely care about the people you work with,” Lundgren said. “The heavy lifting at the bank doesn’t happen in the president’s office, it happens on the teller line and at the accounts desk, it happen’s outside my office. So I would say engage and support the people you work with.”

Lundgren started off in Oregon as a management trainee after he graduated from Oregon State University. After moving to Fairbanks he worked at Alaska USA, Key Bank and Mt. McKinley Bank before ultimately coming to rest at Denali State Bank.

Lundgren has served several positions in the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce including his current position as chair of the Finance Committee. He has also been a former chair of the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp.

Lundgren stated that had not thought about receiving the award before.

“I was surprised, I’ve been to several of these events and I know that the people that receive this recognition are very deserving of it,” Lundgren said. “And I just felt very humbled that people would consider me in the same group as the previous recipients. I had never thought that I would [receive such an award].”

Another theme throughout the dinner and ceremony was Lundgren’s support for the military. He’s been a member of the Fairbanks chamber’s Military Advisory Committee as well as the Alaskan Command Civilian Advisory Board.

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Steve Lundgren holds up the 2017 Business Leader of the Year award presented by School of Management students, Claire Everts (left) and Zachary Morris (right), who were the main organizers of the event. The Business Leader of the Year event is predominantly organized and staffed by students. Josh Hartman/ Staff Writer Photo credit: Josh Hartman

Lundgren has also advocated for the university as part of the UAF Advocacy Committee. During the event he stated that 16 of his 80 employees have degrees from UAF with others currently attending UAF.

“[For students] there’s not a better opportunity in Fairbanks to observe and get to know and learn from business leaders,” Lundgren said about the event.

Agnes Lawson, an Art and marketing student, was the Gaffer, lighting technician, for the video production committee for the event. Lawson stated that Lundgren was one of the first leaders to attend some of the meetings with the students during the organization of the event.

“He was very interested in what each of our roles was and he made sure to know every student and to know your name,” Lawson said.

The Business Leader of the Year is selected by a committee made up of students, staff, advisory council and past business leaders of the year. The committee looks for a number of different things notably the community involvement, business achievement and prolonged impact—how long they have had an impact on the community.

Kasey Barnes, co-chair of the decorations committee and a member of the Great Alaskan

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Steve Lundgren holds up the 2017 Business Leader of the Year award presented by School of Management students, Claire Everts (left) and Zachary Morris (right), who were the main organizers of the event. The Business Leader of the Year event is predominantly organized and staffed by students. Josh Hartman/ Staff Writer Photo credit: Josh Hartman

Accounting People.

The committee who chooses the business leader for each year also chooses a theme for the event. This year’s theme was based on the Monopoly board game because Lundgren has been a banker for over 30 years, according to Barnes.

The event is also a fundraiser for the School of Management’s student organizations. The event is organized and lead by students, according to School of Management Dean Mark Herrmann.

“The biggest importance of this event is the interaction of the students with the community,” Herrmann said. “The fundraising in really important, all of the money that we make from this event goes directly to our student organizations … all of our student events outside the classroom are privately funded.”

The event also served as the debut of the School of Management’s first company, Snow Brew, which makes cold brew coffee which is bottled in recycled bottles. The company offered free samples and asked for investment during the event.

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