Taking Wells Fargo’s Regional Reins
By Peri Kinder
December 1, 2009
As a boy growing up on a farm in Waynesfield, Ohio (population 803), Greg Winegardner dreamed of being a cowboy, and moving out West to ride the range. Little did he know that instead of taming the wilderness, he’d be taking the reins of Wells Fargo Bank during a time of national economic upheaval.
On Sept. 1, Winegardner was named Wells Fargo Regional president for Utah, replacing Robert Hatch who served the bank for 40 years. “I’m coming in behind someone great,” Winegardner says. “But it’s going to take time for the employees, team members, as well as customers and other folks to get to know me. My goal is to continue to grow the business and take care of customers.”
Winegardner spent his first 90 days on the job traveling the state to visit each of the 140 Wells Fargo branches in Utah. He met with almost 200 managers in the first three weeks of September and although he realizes he won’t remember everyone, he hopes his visits relieved some of the anxiety that comes with any change in leadership.
But Winegardner is not new to the Wells Fargo family; he served as the bank’s regional president for New Mexico for five years, and before that as the regional president for Wells Fargo in western Colorado, serving communities like Grand Junction, Aspen and Vail. He says, like New Mexico, Utah hasn’t been hit as hard economically as other parts of the country. Real estate speculation, done in surrounding states like Nevada and Arizona, never really took off in Utah, keeping the economy a little more stable.
“We never really saw the big boom, so we never really had the big bust,” Winegardner says. “But we’re not immune here by any means.”
Even though the country has been through some financial downturns during the last 50 years, Winegardner believes this slump has been the nation’s most severe. As a banking leader, he feels it’s his job to assist customers through these difficult times as well as restore confidence in the banking system.
“We’re getting involved in the community and actively seeking new business,” Winegardner says. “The doors are open for business. We went into this situation in the lead and we want to come out of it in the lead.”
Wells Fargo has a history of community involvement and philanthropic endeavors which Winegardner expects to continue. And he’s confident that after the economic fallout settles, customers will continue to turn to Wells Fargo for their financial needs.
A dedicated family man, Winegardner married his childhood sweetheart, Jill, and raised four children with her. They now have four grandchildren and love getting away to their ranch in western Colorado for some much needed “ranch therapy.”
“I also golf a little,” he says. “But to call me a golfer might be an abuse of the word.”
Putting aside ranching and golfing for a while, Winegardner has quite a task ahead of him as he helps lead Utah out of a tough financial situation. Luckily, he doesn’t have to do it alone.
“It’s a great group of people who work for Wells Fargo here in Utah,” he says. “I’m very happy to be here.”