River Valley Bank was chartered in July 1967 by 13 applicants including Gordon R. Connor, who was named the first president of the bank. River Valley opened Dec. 8, 1967, in a small house on the corner of Kort and Volkman streets in Rothschild, Wisconsin with $500,000.
By July 1968, the bank had grown to $2 million in deposits and had moved to its new location at 1130 E. Grand Avenue in Rothschild, which still serves as the bank’s Rothschild branch. By December 1968, River Valley’s assets were more than $3 million. In three years, the assets would double to $6 million.
The bank continued to expand its physical footprint as well, opening a branch in Weston in 1975 and Merrill in 1988.
But it was the bank’s commitment to business banking that attracted the Nicklaus family. In 1983, Ron and Kay Nicklaus, farmers from the Tug Lake area in central Wisconsin who had become the nation’s largest producer and harvester of green beans, purchased majority stock in River Valley.
“It is a community bank, has a good board of directors and has a strong agriculture and business lending program,” Ron said in a Jan. 25, 1986, article in the Wausau Daily Record Herald. “(While heading Nicklaus Enterprises) I learned a certain amount about banks and I found it interesting.”
Ron and Kay’s oldest son, Todd Nickalus, joined the bank in 1990 and was named president in 1993 and chairman of the board in 2006. He now serves as Chairman of the Board. In 1998, Todd’s younger brother Greg Nicklaus joined the bank as executive vice president and currently sits on the bank’s board of directors. Although both brothers remain close to what is happening in the company, day-to-day operations are overseen by bank president Todd Nagel.
River Valley now operates in 16 communities throughout central and northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.