Our Story

Just a Dream

Commerce Bank & Trust, originally known as Commerce State Bank was officially chartered by the State Banking Department on August 4, 1959.

In the beginning, the bank was a dream in the minds of several Topeka businessmen. The group was responsible for the development of a new shopping center and to complete the shopping experience they wanted to include a bank in the same area.

Progress was slow until Emery Fager was persuaded to leave his position with the Kansas State Bank at Overbrook, KS and come to Topeka to become President and Chief Executive Officer of the proposed Commerce State Bank. Emery Fager accepted the offer and immediately became involved in the organization of the new bank.

The bank was opened December 3, 1959, with a capital stock of $200,000, a surplus of $100,000 and undivided profits of $50,000. According to Emery, “Starting a new bank was indeed a challenge. I wanted this new bank to have a good image, character and a purpose. I did not want it to be just another bank. I dreamed the Commerce State Bank would be progressive, innovative and highly competitive. From the very beginning, we were a people-oriented bank - our philosophy was to serve the needs of all the people with the utmost convenience and with special emphasis on friendly, helpful, personal attention.”

During the next several decades Commerce built an impressive list of customer service “firsts” - all based around the core philosophy of providing outstanding banking convenience.

  • Personalized checks with account numbers
  • Implemented an in-house computer program
  • Brought the first 24-hour ATM in the area on line
  • Began offering Visa and MasterCard credit cards

In 1978, Duane Fager became President & CEO. Under his leadership the bank continued to grow, prosper and remained a leader in technology. Under his guidance the bank was nationally recognized as the “Best Bank in Kansas” by Money Magazine.

Duane's vision did not vary from founding values;  "Helping our customers with all their financial needs and leading the way in innovation and responsiveness is CORE to our business. This way of doing business is the CoreFirst way and sets us apart from our competition."  Because of his awareness and keen attention to customer feedback, the bank was the first in the region to provide:

  • Grocery store branches
  • Online Banking
  • Automated Billpayer
  • Debit Cards tied to checking accounts
  • A dedicated Call Center for enhanced customer service
  • Extended branch hours that included; evening, weekends and holidays 

In 2007 Duane announced major expansion plans that included a new name. 

New Name, Same Convenience

Over the years, loyal customers in nearby communities throughout the region wanted Commerce’s exceptional service. Demand grew for further geographic expansion. However, growth was stymied because another area bank was already using the “Commerce” name. To continue growth and service objectives, an “expansion identity” was needed, and, the CoreFirst Bank & Trust brand was born in 2007.

Same Bank

In 2013, Kurt Kuta was named President & CEO and Duane Fager, Chairman of the Board. Kuta brought with him a profound awareness of community banking and a strong desire to propel CoreFirst forward without losing sight of the bank's rich past . Kuta has lead CoreFirst forward and remains rooted in the founding principles that have created a community bank legacy.          

Today

CoreFirst has locations in Topeka, Manhattan and Denver, CO. Locations have also been added in the Kansas City area: Olathe, Shawnee and Lenexa.

Helping our customers with all their financial needs and leading the way in innovation and responsiveness remains at the core of our mission. This way of doing business, the CoreFirst Way, continues to set us apart from our competitors and will guide us well into the future.

Looking Back

Main Bank 1960
Commerce State Bank officially opened on December 3, 1959.
Girl with Redbud
From the very beginning, CoreFirst was a people-oriented bank, supplying over 12,000 redbud trees to Topeka after the devastating 66' tornado. Today, we still have a deep commitment to the communities we serve.
E & D
In 2007, Emery & Duane Fager announce major expansion plans.

Logo Colored Commerce Centered 202
Kurt Kuta becomes President & CEO of CoreFirst Bank & Trust in March 2013.

  • Commerce State Bank was opened for business
  • Emery Fager was named President 
A second Commerce State Bank location was opened 
  • Commerce Headquarters was opened
  • In-house computer was purchased to provide customers with services only big banks could offer
  • Installed the areas first ATM and began offering Credit Cards
  • Duane Fager becomes President &CEO and Emery Fager Chairman of the Board
  • Telephone banking was introduced
  • Debit cards were introduced
  • Grocery store branches were opened with extended banking hours including weekends 
  • First branch opened outside of the Topeka area
  • Named Best Bank in Kansas by Money Magazine
  • Commerce announces major expansion plans
  • A new brand is born - CoreFirst Bank & Trust
A new computer operating system is installed
  • Emery Fager announces his retirement
  • Duane Fager becomes Chairman of the Board
  • Kurt Kuta becomes President & CEO.
  • Changes to the Board of Directors are announced. Timothy Etzel and Richard Meidinger, M.D. announce their retirement. New Directors are announced; Kristina Dietrick, Noel Etzel and Melissa Hiestand.