Scott Ducke, State Bank of Cross Plains
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Scott Ducke, chief lending officer, State Bank of Cross Plains.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
At State Bank of Cross Plains, we serve a lot of different types of people and businesses. It can be a challenge providing loan products that meet all of those needs. However, when we get it right, that’s when the rewarding parts of my job happen! A good example is when the recent flooding created a need within our communities for short-term recovery loans. Basically, people needed to replace appliances like water heaters, furnaces and air conditioners, refrigerators, and so on to make their homes or businesses safe places in the short term so they could take a little more time to clean up, remodel, and/or repair the major damage. We had to create a loan on the fly to serve that need. In response, we were able to provide short-term, 0 percent loans specific to flood damage recovery. However, it doesn’t require a flood or major disaster for that challenge/reward dynamic to happen. We’ve been helping businesses and individuals or families start new ventures, grow their current situations, and recover from accidents or emergencies for 110 years. When we support that kind of growth, it helps the whole community. It’s definitely rewarding to be part of their lives and goals. It feels good when we can help people.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
My father has been in various businesses for more than 40 years and taught me more about life, attitude, work ethic, and running a business than anyone or anything else. He often said to me, “there are challenges wherever you are.” It was a great lesson in learning to handle conflict or challenges with respect and efficiency instead of avoiding them or moving on. When I was 18 years old, I asked him to co-sign on a car loan, but he refused. He told me to save my money so I could purchase it myself. You might think that’s counterintuitive to my job now as a lender, but it taught me to deal with our customers with respect and responsibility for their finances. I’m always going to tell people what’s possible in relation to what actually works responsibly. As my father often explained, sometimes a “no for now” is the best advice. It has helped me become a true partner and advocate for the people I serve every day. If I have to say “no for now,” I work to help them understand how to get to a “yes.”
What has been the high point of your career so far?
For me, the high point of achieving success in my career really means that I’ve achieved the ability to use the leadership skills I’ve developed and to tap into the network I’ve built to make a difference in the community where my wife and I raise our three daughters. The type of work I do as a bank executive enables me to serve as the Board Chair for Gilda’s Club, an organization that supports people affected by cancer in some way. This is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart, and I’m grateful that my professional experience and the support of State Bank of Cross Plains provides me with an opportunity to work on priorities beyond my day-to-day responsibilities at the bank. I like that my career path has helped me stay true to my passions in life as a whole and intertwines my professional goals, personal goals, and service goals.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Two things stand out in my mind. First, I would say to keep learning. No matter what your job is or how high up the food chain you grow, there’s always more to learn and always something you don’t know. Second, I would say to always be the first person to volunteer to take care of the extra stuff. You should always be the one to ask, “What can I do now, what’s next?” I started out in banking working in a grocery store branch and just kept asking for more responsibility. I was told “no” at least as often as I was told “yes,” but that attitude got me from that grocery store branch to where I am today. That’s still the attitude I look for in others. I like to work with people who always want to do more and be a contributor.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
Dane County is a great place for building a sense of community. I’m from the LaCrosse area and grew up in that type of environment. Dane County has everything you could want from any size city or town — lakes and recreation, entertainment, education — but it still provides the community feel and type of energy you can usually only find in a small town.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I’m ambidextrous. It doesn’t feel special to me because I’ve always been that way. It wasn’t something I worked at. However, other people find it unusual and comment on it a lot. I didn’t even really realize it was something different until people started asking me if I was left handed or asking why I throw a ball with one hand but brush my teeth with the other.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I love to water ski, but don’t get to do it often enough. Instead, I am driving the boat rather than getting pulled behind it. I have three kids who I love to pull on innertubes and wake boards. I guess I get more pleasure out of their shrieks and laughter!
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