Bell Bank expands into Denver with LPO

TJ Kern

Fargo, N.D.-based Bell Bank opened its first LPO in Denver, which will focus on commercial and industrial and commercial real estate lending.

Brent Walz, Bell Bank’s Colorado and Arizona CRE manager, and longtime Denver-area banking leader TJ Kern, who joined Bell last year, helped to establish the office. 

“We’re excited to have our core team in place at Bell Bank’s new Colorado loan production office,” Kern said. “We’re working to build brand awareness and develop new relationships in the Denver metro area, and throughout Colorado, as we tell the Bell Bank story and highlight our competitive advantages in the marketplace.”

The LPO includes six staff:

  • Kern, who has a degree in business administration from Bob Jones University, Greenville, S.C. Kern has worked in the financial industry since 1985. He held commercial banking positions at multiple banks, most recently as SVP/corporate banking relationship manager at Vectra Bank Colorado, Denver. 
  • Vice President and commercial banker Matt Smeby. Smeby, who started his banking career in 2010 as a credit analyst, has more than a dozen years of experience in commercial lending. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Carroll College, Helena, Mont., and an MBA from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. 
  • Senior Vice President and CRE banker Eric Muniz, who has a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in finance from Montana State University, Bozeman. Muniz, who started his banking career in 1991 in operations, has focused on CRE banking since 1998. 
  • Credit Officer Tim Yeager, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado at Denver and Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Yeager has been in banking since 2016. 
  • Commercial loan coordinator Lynn Schlagel, who began her banking career in 1997 in St. Louis and has held administrative and lender support roles for 25 years.  
  • Commercial loan coordinator assistant Abby Ardron, who attended college in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta.