Pierre National Bank, now named BankWest, opened its doors on September 2, 1889. Pierre was a booming community and the bank was founded by a group of local entrepreneurs who recognized the community’s potential. Just two months later, South Dakota gained statehood and Pierre would ultimately become the state’s capital.
The bank’s first customer was a man whose name would become synonymous with the bank for more than five generations. Charles H. Burke was an attorney, politician and businessman who came to Dakota Territory in 1882. He moved to Pierre in 1887, where he was a partner in the real estate firm of Baird, Burke and Brown. Burke served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs. In 1915, he became a director for Pierre National Bank and served as its vice president from 1930 to 1945.
The Burke family has since continued its long association with Pierre National Bank and BankWest. Burke’s son, Walter Burke, started as a cashier after serving in World War I and eventually worked his way up to president and chairman of the board. He also bought controlling interest from the bank’s founders and transferred ownership to his family.
Charles Burke’s grandson, Charles Burke II, followed a similar career path. He joined Pierre National Bank in 1948 following service in World War II and graduation from the University of South Dakota. After becoming bank president in 1972, he was elected chairman of the board and CEO in 1987. He kept an office at the bank until his death in 2009.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pierre National Bank acquired a number of community institutions in smaller communities across central South Dakota. These acquisitions led to a significant event in the bank’s history – the adoption of a new name, BankWest
The current chairman, president and CEO is Charles Burke III. Burke spent eight years in the military and worked in a Yankton bank before moving back to Pierre. He started with BankWest in 1982 as a customer service officer and became president of the Pierre office and branch in 1987. In 1993, he was named CEO and became Chairman of the Board in 2009. Burke is active in philanthropic endeavors and participates in community causes in and around the Pierre area. His daughter Becky is the fifth generation of the Burke family to be associated with BankWest. She currently serves the bank as a management development associate.
The BankWest Difference
For five generations, the Burke family has committed itself to providing the highest-quality banking experience in South Dakota. The bank has continually won customer loyalty by providing a comprehensive line of financial services, backed by quality service that is second to none.
Helping customers and communities achieve financial success is the primary focus of Charles Burke III and his team. As a privately-owned organization, the bank is free to make decisions based on long-term values rather than short-term profits. No bank in South Dakota offers more customer care and educational programs than BankWest. In addition, no bank in South Dakota gives back to its community’s youth, and charitable endeavors at the level we do.
As one of the largest FDIC-insured financial institutions in the state, we embrace the best technology, products and customer service, because our customers deserve the best from each of us … every day.
Our mission statement serves as our foundation and our formula for success. These principles guide us to better serve our customers. At BankWest …
Our Performance Guarantee
Everything we do focuses upon exceptional customer service. Exceptional customer service means not only remaining true to our values and delivering on our promises, but also going above and beyond customer expectations to meet their unique needs.
One way we earn extra points is by upholding our promise to do more than any other financial institution to provide friendly and error-free service. We call this our Performance Guarantee. If a BankWest associate or any BankWest vendor fails to meet that commitment, we’ll apologize, make an immediate correction and make a $5 Performance Guarantee payment to the customer for bringing it to our attention.
According to our Performance Guarantee, BankWest customers have our promise to uphold the following service standards:
Come to BankWest... and experience the best in guaranteed accuracy and service.