Kory Shae’s Journey of Becoming Border Bank’s CEO

Written by: Josiah Kopp

For Kory Shae, 2024 started off in a milestone way as he was promoted to CEO of Border Bank at the turn of the year. We sat down with Shae to discuss his journey and new role, the next chapter of Border Bank, and so much more.

Banking has been a constant presence in Shae’s life. “Banking is in my blood,” the Ulen, MN, native said, noting that both his father and brother are bankers. His fascination with the world of banking stems from a combination of interest in both mathematics and client relations. This blend of interests naturally led him to a career in banking.

Border Bank From Then to Now

1935 – Greenbush State Bank is founded.

1985 – Greenbush State Bank celebrates 50 years in 1985.

1993 – Greenbush State Bank & Badger State Bank merge to create Border State Bank.

1995 – BSB Roseau branch opens.

1998 – BSB Baudette branch opens.

2000 – BSB International Falls branch opens.

2002 – First National Bank with locations in Thief River Falls and Middle River acquired.

2002 – BSB Thief River Falls and Middle River branches open.

2015 – First Advantage Bank in Coon Rapids is acquired.

2016 – BSB Coon Rapids branch opens.

2017 – First State Bank of Clearbrook is acquired.

2018 – BSB Clearbrook branch opens,

2018 – Union State Bank in Fargo, ND is acquired.

2020 – Border Bank name and branch launch.

2020 – Border Bank Fargo branch opens on 17th Avenue South.

2022 – Border Bank opens second Fargo branch on 32nd Avenue South.

2023 – Northern Ag Insurance is acquired.

2024 – Border Bank welcomes Kory Shae as their new CEO.

“I am grateful to take part in honoring the legacy while shaping the future of Border Bank. We are committed to continuing a rich tradition of community banking and service that endures for generations to come,” Shae said.

Shae earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Moorhead State University Moorhead and his Master of Business Administration from North Dakota State University. He has over twenty years of experience in the financial services industry, primarily in business banking, and has served in a variety of leadership positions, most recently as chief banking officer and president.

When Kory Shae Discovered Border Bank

Shae’s introduction to Border Bank came about in an unconventional way. He was initially part of Union State Bank, which was acquired by Border Bank. “I was purchased in a merger and acquisition,” he said. During this process, he was impressed by Border Bank’s approach. He admired their commitment to staying relevant and investing in their brand, people, processes, and technology.

The merger process allowed Shae to meet a variety of professionals in the financial industry, and he was particularly impressed by the people at Border Bank. “Border has some of the most dedicated people [I’ve ever been] exposed to,” he said. Shae joined the Border Bank team in 2020 as a director of business development and quickly advanced through his roles.

Now, he has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead Border Bank into its next chapter, backed with several goals, both personal and professional, to guide his journey as the bank’s new CEO. With 11 locations in both Minnesota and North Dakota, Shae combines his personal values with his professional approach. “I like to talk to our team about how we will never ‘arrive’ but that it’s the pursuit that drives our success,” he said.

Kory Shae on what makes a great team

      • An organization enriched with diverse opinions, backgrounds, and experiences.
      • A team environment that values respectful disagreement and cohesion, focusing on a common goal.
      • The mix of long-tenured employees and newcomers adds significant value.
      • Empowering team members to share their honest opinions, which is essential for the team’s effectiveness.


    Shae also stresses the importance of making difficult but correct decisions, especially those that are client-centric. “Teams that are willing to do the hard thing because of their dedication are very valuable for our organization and our clients,” he said.

    Kory Shae, CEO of Border Bank, sitting for an interview

    Kory Shae’s Goals for Border Bank’s Future

    As the new CEO of Border Bank, Shae views his primary responsibility as maintaining and building upon the bank’s existing successes. “I have a big responsibility to keep doing what is great,” he said. “My goal for the bank is to continue on the successful path we’re on.”

    When it comes to the bank’s employees, Shae’s vision is to maintain and develop the bank’s culture, fostering growth and adaptation in an industry that is constantly changing. “I think our industry is growing and consolidating at an unprecedented pace, and to maintain that relevancy, what I owe to the employees is to continue to grow the bank in a way that makes sense so that we remain an independent successful bank,” he said.

    Community Banking

    Shae isn’t just committed to banking as a profession but also holds a strong belief in the value and future of community banking. “I’m always proud of how dominant of a force community banking is and will be in the future,” he said.

    To Shae, community banking is a crucial part of local ecosystems. “We take deposits and borrow money from our neighbors, from our churches, from our schools. The fact that it’s an ecosystem that we give back to [is what I love about it]. National banking doesn’t exist at that level—and that’s why community banking is different than national banking. That’s why I like it. I like the fact that we all are helping each other… As our clients do better, the bank does better, the people in the communities do better, and it makes me proud to be part of that,” he said.

    What Sets Border Bank Apart

    Shae believes that what sets Border Bank apart in the banking industry is its unique blend of being both big enough to be relevant and small enough to be personable. “I’m big into reducing friction in the banking system,” he said. “The winner in the community bank space will be the ones that can reduce that friction and make it easy to do business.”

    Regarding what makes Border Bank a great organization to work for, Shae credits the people. He compares his enthusiasm for coming into the office to the energy he feels at a gym—not for the equipment, but for the vibe. “I’m always excited… it’s exciting to be with these people,” he said. This excitement extends to leveraging technology for better communication, such as web boards and video calling, allowing him to connect with all 160 employees.

    The Future of Technology in Banking

    Shae anticipates significant changes in the banking industry over the next five years, particularly in the realm of community banking. He foresees a shift towards more specialized, niche services. “The winners and losers will be the people that find a way to provide exceptional service and meet their client’s needs,” he said.

    While he believes that technology will play a crucial role in the future of banking, it should not replace the human element. Instead, technology should be used to enhance and support human interactions and services. “We can use technology to support people to do things better, faster, and to remove friction,” he said.

    Shae’s vision for the future of banking involves empowering people and communities to do business in ways that make sense for them, leveraging technology as a tool to enhance, not replace, personal connections and services.

    What’s your Border Bank pitch?

    “I would choose Border Bank because we are big enough to help with a plethora of products and services. However, we’re still structured to size, so we move very quickly and can meet the demands of the client. Border Bank still cares how everybody feels, but is big enough to compete on a larger scale big enough to offer anything.”

    Kory Shae on Leadership

    “My pursuit was never to say, ‘One day, I want to be at the top, I want to be the CEO.’ Not at all. I want to work with really good people and do really great things. And that’s what we’re doing at Border Bank.

    How their team can support and sustain our communities

    Shae emphasizes the importance of Border Bank’s team in supporting and sustaining their communities, drawing on the concept of the banking ecosystem. He believes that this model, where the bank and the community mutually support each other, will continue to be effective. He wants his team to contribute in ways that are meaningful to them.

    “I want you to be involved in what you want to be involved in,” he said, stressing the importance of genuine passion in community engagement.

    For Shae, the key to successful community support is allowing individuals to pursue what truly resonates with them. This not only benefits the individuals and the bank but also has a profound positive impact on the community.

    Shae is proud of the work Border Bank has been doing in supporting communities and hopes this will continue. He sees the bank’s commitment to community support as a core driver of its success and an integral part of its identity. “It’s a core piece of Border Bank,” Shae concluded, highlighting the bank’s dedication to contributing positively to the communities it serves.

    Get started with Border Bank today

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    Josiah is an Editor and Photographer at Spotlight Media in Fargo.