Insurer transforms bank site

FAIRMONT – The tell-tale signs of a traditional bank are disappearing at the former Bank Midwest building in downtown Fairmont.

Gone are the teller stations and drive-up window, but the vault will remain for storing permanent records when Fairmont Farmers Mutual Insurance opens its doors at 118 Downtown Plaza in early to mid-August.

“It’s more room than what we need for now, but hopefully we’ll grow into it,” said Paul Stueven, chief operating officer of the insurance company.

Fairmont Farmers is currently located at 1285 S. State St., in a leased 4,000-square foot office. The building on Downtown Plaza encloses 12,000 square feet.

“We’re cramped where we’re at,” Stueven said. “We have 16 employees, so when everybody is in, it’s pretty tight.”

Fairmont Farmers Mutual Insurance was formed in 1889. In the past 10 years, it has experienced rapid growth, in part due to a merger. In 2007 alone, it grew 40 percent.

“We have 54 agents that represent us,” Stueven said.

Its clients are from throughout the state, but the majority are from the southern third of Minnesota.

“We’re pushing 9,400 policyholders … we had $15 million in premiums by the end of the year,” he said.