Amazing Outside Directors 2024: Andrew Young

Andrew Young lives up to his name on the Starion Bank board — he is the youngest director serving the Bismarck, N.D.-based bank. 

Young first came to Starion’s attention through a professional contact who already sat on the board. His resume stood out, as well as the fact that he came from Fargo, where the bank has a significant presence. His small-town North Dakota background also helped convince the directors of Starion to appoint him as a mid-year addition in 2023.

Andrew Young photo
Andrew Young

A lifelong entrepreneur, Young brings a passion for small business needs as well as a focus on the future of marketing. Having watched his parents run the pharmacy in the town of Napoleon, N.D. (pop. 753), Young had a front row seat to the struggles and benefits of small business ownership. He displayed his flair for capturing attention during high school, when he worked as a stage magician. Since then, he’s built a marketing agency from the ground up while balancing a portfolio of short-term rental properties.

He brings his millennial perspective and energy — as well as his marketing acumen — to Starion, prompting recognition as one of BankBeat magazine’s 2024 “Amazing Outside Directors”.

Young is creative director at Abovo, a design and marketing agency, in Fargo. Like many college-aged Midwesterners, he took the first few years after graduation to try his hand at jobs across the country. He interned for ABC Network News, working on “World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer,” and helped produce the Academy Of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles. Through it all, he kept his family ties in North Dakota, and he’s a big believer in the state and region. “I realized that I could take what I learned in all of these different places, and I could make Fargo and North Dakota better by utilizing them here,” he said, encouraging other young professionals to travel and learn before bringing their skills back to the Midwest.

Young brought his storytelling and production expertise to a role launching the in-house media production department at Fargo-based sporting goods store Scheels.

“I sat in a coffee shop one day and I wrote [then-CEO/Chair] Steve D. Scheel a letter introducing myself, essentially saying, ‘I’m really capable of producing video and TV commercials and I would like to be hired to produce some of yours in-house,” Young recalled.

The letter worked, and he spent the next two years polishing up the division before he left to launch his own agency in 2017 after a brief stop in New Zealand to produce a TEDx conference.

The name of Abovo comes from a Latin expression, ab ovo usque ad mala, which means “from the egg to the apples.” Roman dinners would begin with an egg and end with apple slices for dessert; they used the phrase as a toast to celebrate the fellowship of the meal’s participants. Young sees his firm’s role as incubating ideas, then carrying them through from planning to completion.

While Abovo is a traditional marketing agency, it also has a specialization in creating relationship-based experiences rather than sales-heavy interactions. “Any time we get to create a physical, tangible experience between a brand and a customer, that is our bread and butter,” Young said. 

He brings that same emphasis on experiences and relationships to his work on the Starion board. As a millennial, his experience of banking interactions has happened largely outside the confines of the lobby, and he’s ready to push the conversation beyond bricks and mortar.

He’s not the only millennial director the bank has, and broadening its age base has been a deliberate strategy for the board, said Craig Larson, board chair and former Starion CEO.

“We wanted to really get that insight into the younger generation, the bank customers who will be coming up,” Larson added. “We’ve been blown away by the young people who contribute.”

Even though Young hasn’t been on the board for a long time, Larson is impressed by his performance so far. “He takes a thoughtful approach to joining the board; he’s been listening a lot,” he said. “But he’s also very comfortable bringing to the board’s attention the things he sees about the bank, especially in his areas of expertise.”

Young has put his main focus so far on getting acquainted with Starion’s business model from top to bottom. He’s interviewed leaders and employees at all levels of the organization, and he’s starting to line up his ideas.

“Every employee of every company is a storyteller of that brand, of that organization,” he said. “It’s been really interesting for me to get a grasp on the types of interactions that each Starion employee has with its customers, especially as I learn how I can understand and identify key ways we can tell our story better.”

Technology means customers aren’t in lobbies as much anymore, and they can see with a quick internet search where to find the best rates. Banks will have to differentiate themselves in other ways, and trying to lure customers — especially younger ones — into branches with coffee shops is a distraction, Young believes. Instead, he wants to use experiences and relationship building to put an emphasis on meeting customers where they’re at.

“When you achieve customer loyalty, you have what I call ‘customer blinders,’” he said. “Customers aren’t wanting to look at competition because they don’t need to.”