Johnston new branch manager of Klamath First

Don Johnston

Known to many as the former owner of Enterprise's Ace Hardware Store, Don Johnston has been named as the new Branch Manager of Klamath First in Enterprise. He replaces Judy Holbrook who retired Sept. 30 after 37 years in the banking business.

Johnston has a strong resume from the business world, but is fairly new to banking. In fact he only worked for 1 1/2 years with Americus Federal Savings Bank, a partnership with Safeway Select Bank, in Molalla before beginning at his new position on Tuesday. He worked as a personal banker for Safeway Select until it shut down its U.S. operations on Nov. 30, 2002.

The 47-year-old Johnston began his Ace Hardware career before coming to Enterprise and continued it after leaving. He began working with eventual partner Chris Dunn in Baker City, partnered with Dunn during his 1995-1998 tenure in Enterprise and, for a short period of time, he and Dunn opened four more Ace Hardware stores in the Portland area.

Then he began his banking career.

Born and raised in Baker City, Johnston graduated high school in 1974 and joined the Marine Corps where he worked stateside in engineering reconnaissance. For ten years he worked as co-owner and vice president of an air freight trucking company called Air Freight Enterprises Corp.

"I'm really happy to be back in Wallowa County," he said. "I'm looking forward to being part of the community again."

Duties of the branch manager, in addition to customer service and the hiring of two tellers to bring Klamath First "to a proper staffing number," include helping persons interested in mortgages, loans and debt payments.

Johnston praises the efforts of operation's officer Lorinda Tripp and accounts manager Sheryl Gorsline who have been working hard over the interim.

Klamath First Bancorp, Inc. is the holding company for Klamath First, which operates 57 offices, 55 in 26 counties throughout Oregon and two in-store branches in south central Washington.

Though admittedly new to his position, Johnston plans to learn all there is to know at Klamath First. "I will learn the whole thing from the drive-up window to opening accounts," he says.

After his ten years with the Air Freight Enterprises Corp. the new branch manager returned to Baker City and went to work in the woods. While working there he sustained a back injury which kept him out of the work force for 1 1/2 years. Then he went into the hardware business.

Klamath First opened its Enterprise branch in July of 1997. At the same site prior to that date was a Wells Fargo Bank and before that a First Independent Bank.

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