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Mariner Kemper – 2014 Chairman of the Board of the American Royal

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Mariner Kemper is taking the reins of the America Royal. He will be continuing a family tradition of involvement in this organization with his father, R. Crosby Kemper, Jr. serving as chair in 1991 and 1992. The building itself, Kemper Arena, was named in honor of Mariner’s grandfather, R. Crosby Kemper, Sr. Below is an excerpt from his speech at Tuesday’s annual meeting.

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Mariner Kemper Addresses the American Royal

It is truly an honor to continue the tradition of The American Royal. The mission of The American Royal is—

To promote and celebrate the excellence in agricultural progress and to develop future generations of leaders through agrarian values.

My personal interest in this mission dates back to the lessons I learned from my father. My childhood and adolescent memories are filled with a connection to land, nature, animals and getting your hands dirty.

Sure they wore suits and ties, worked in office buildings, and helped people manage their money – the RIGHT way. But at the end of the day, and most Saturday afternoons – ties were replaced by hats, hallways replaced by fences and ceilings became the blue sky.

My father truly loved the American Royal as did his father before him. I share that love and understanding of the agrarian lifestyle and values.

The example of Eisenhower

This philosophy really hit home this past Thanksgiving as I was reading the biography of President Eisenhower by Stephen Ambrose.

President Eisenhower. Here’s a man who served as Supreme Commander in Chief of World War II and President of the United States. And when he could find time to take a break from serving our nation, what did he do? He returned to his roots in Abilene, Kansas. Put on his boots, saddled a horse, talked about the weather and last year’s alfalfa crop, and voiced his opinion on John Deere vs. International Harvester. He put himself in an environment that he believed in:  the values, the sensibility and self-reliance born from an agrarian lifestyle. He embraced and understood the work ethic and ambition that is formed from living off the land. And then carried those principles and experiences in leading people and our nation to peace and prosperity.

I believe we need to “act like Ike,” as many have said before. Lead with that work ethic and ambition. Self-reliance. Values matter.

State of The American Royal

Today, The American Royal enters the 115th year of serving and celebrating agriculture. And the core of our mission is to support the future of agriculture. We cannot, and must not, lose sight of this purpose to serve current and future generations. Every year we are introduced to some of these inspirational leaders, The Royal Scholars, and are captivated by their accomplishments and what is important to them.

It’s motivating.

And when we listen to them, it’s not about their farm, their town, their county or their state. Their vision is about our future and our country – and this reinforces what The American Royal stands for.

The American Royal is not an isolated activity for Kansas City or the Midwest. It is the AMERICAN Royal. You can build a case that every person, every company, every community is touched by and obligated to play a role in our agriculture system. After all, our economy and livelihood are reliant on a functional and safe agricultural system.

We are lucky to have such a rich ag history in Kansas City that gives us the platform to not only provide leadership but to celebrate what Kansas City and our surrounding regions mean to our national food and agrarian culture.

As Greg Maday once coined, the American Royal is truly Kansas City’s most authentic asset. Every city has a performing arts center. Every city has a football team, but there are only a handful of cities in America that have something as special as the American Royal.

The American Royal is a critical piece in that food chain. We have done a great job as a supporter and advocate of agriculture throughout the years. The American Royal livestock shows, rodeos, educational programs, scholarships and world-famous barbecues are a foundation we all can take pride in.

Our Barbecue is the world’s largest, but in my opinion, it is still Kansas City’s best kept secret. When visitors come to town, what’s the first thing they want to do? Hit up a world-famous Kansas City barbecue joint. We have a better reputation nationally than we recognize locally. We are continually listed on every Best Barbecue list and the Food Network does regular exposés on Kansas City barbeque. The American Royal barbecue should be THE event in Kansas City. It’s one of our best assets.

And now is the time to think and act deeper than our roots and beyond our fences. But before we do that, we must have a heightened focus on cultivating our community. It is essential for us to involve a broader base of individual, civic and corporate support for The American Royal.

We need to act and think like Louisville, Kentucky when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. Or like Austin, Texas when it comes to the South by Southwest Festival. Or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Those communities not only rally around the purpose–they also captivate the attention and participation of people throughout the U.S. and internationally.

And that’s what we need to do. That’s what we CAN do. The American Royal is valuable, unique and important—and it’s up to all of us to make sure others have the opportunity to know the purpose it serves and the benefits it provides.  This will be part of our mission for 2014, and we need your help to make it happen.

The American Royal in 2014

Many believe no other city in the U.S. can claim an agricultural history as rich as Kansas City’s. From Lewis & Clark, to The Oregon Trail to one of the country’s biggest railway hubs, Kansas City has served as a focal point for transporting grains, animals and freight. A recent report estimated the total value of freight handled within the Kansas City area each year is more than $800 billion. 

Thanks in large part to the entrepreneurial vision of Kansas City Southern Railway, Kansas City has direct access to markets throughout the southern U.S., Mexico and the Pacific region.

This intersection of transportation and commerce has fueled entrepreneurial opportunities established by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Big 5 initiative. In fact, Kansas City has now established a global reputation as the center of the Animal Health Industry, and hosts several important international animal health conferences every year.

Given this, here are my three priorities for 2014:

  1. Capitalize on location in the Heartland – We have an opportunity to rally around what is unique in Kansas City and become recognized nationally. I also want to expand scholarship and educational activities.
  2. Secure broader engagement and endorsement from corporate and civic leadership – The impact of the American Royal is undeniable. Compared to the MLB All-Star Game that brought $60 million to the local economy ONCE, the American Royal does this every year. We need to remind the community of this impact to engage more advocates. Our ultimate goal is for the entire city to feel ownership of the American Royal.
  3. And finally, create a collaboration between Kansas City and American Royal for new facility – A new facility will breathe new life into the American Royal and agriculture. The American Royal will remain the inspiration for the future of agriculture. Rather, it will SAVE the city money. All while catering to constituents, community and ag-related interests from across the country.

As we look to the future, our role is not to defend The American Royal, but rather to promote it and build excitement for what we offer. We have an obligation and a responsibility before us.

President Eisenhower once said, Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.

Well America, here we are. The American Royal. 


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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In memory

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It is with profound sorrow that I share the passing of my father, R. Crosby Kemper, Jr., chairman emeritus of UMB Financial Corporation. He passed away yesterday.

My father had a tremendous influence on the growth and vitality of UMB and on so many businesses throughout the Midwest. He was a man of great intellect, integrity and values, and was an inspiration to all that had the pleasure to know him. He also leaves a profound legacy of contributions to civic and charitable causes related to his beloved Kansas City. His business acumen and personal generosity were evident in all that he did. 

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To help pay tribute, there is a legacy site, rcrosbykemperjr.com, that has been created to honor him. The site includes his biography, photos, videos and extensive personal history. And while there is no possible way to truly convey who he was and the contributions he made, I believe this site provides a glimpse of that, clearly showing he lived every day to the fullest and that this world is a better place because of him.

Also, if you have a favorite memory of my dad that you would like to share, you can post this on UMB Bank’s Facebook page or send an email to condolences@umb.com.

Our family thanks you for your support and thoughts during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Mariner 


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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The 100-Year Old Entrepreneur

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A century is a significant amount of time for anything. However, it’s an especially meaningful milestone for UMB. When you think about some of the challenges over the past 100 years: the Great Depression, world wars and most recently the Great Recession, it’s a unique feat to not only survive 100 years, but to thrive. We aren’t the only century old company, there are many more like us. So, what’s the secret to success?

It’s the story of the 100-year-old entrepreneur.

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What do I mean by that? It’s the idea that regardless of how long a business operates, the leaders must make a conscious effort to always incorporate the entrepreneur mindset in their day-to-day work. It’s the visions, strategies and practices that continue to reinvent, reset and remind an organization of who they are, what they offer, and how/why they do what they do.

There are several common values entrepreneurs bring to the table – below are a few I believe are most important.

Evolution is not optional

It sounds simple, but this can be hard for companies. As time, customers, technology and pretty much everything else change, so must elements of a business. Having the foresight and commitment to take calculated risks based on these evolving needs is critical. Entrepreneurs start a business venture because they see an opportunity for a new way to do something – a mindset existing businesses should also adopt. Whether it’s adapting delivery models, expanding or eliminating offerings, or entering new markets, continuing to evolve as a business will help you stay relevant. Fear of failure cannot be an inhibitor. We all know, the only constant is change…and that’s actually a good thing for business.

Surround yourself with the best team

We all say it, but not everyone does it. Successful entrepreneurs understand that associates are as important as their business model. They are the heartbeat of the organization. A business can have the best offering in the marketplace, but it won’t mean anything if the right people aren’t part of the team. Having people that continually evaluate, question, advise and champion the way products and services are formed and executed will determine your success. Associates are also the face of your company, so having people who are passionate about your organization and what you do is a must. We all know in a competitive market, customer service and relationships can be the differentiator. Anyone can win on price. The real question is whether you can win, and more importantly keep the business, based on service.

Ethics and Integrity

It’s the Golden Rule. It’s your moral compass. It’s your reputation and the value behind your brand. How you conduct business defines your worth as a trusted advisor, a community member and an employer.  I’ve often said, “We do what’s right, not what’s popular.” And it’s been one of the biggest contributors to our success. Having these types of guiding philosophies that are passed down generation after generation and consciously employed in the daily culture and actions of your organization will result in outstanding client relationships, quality community involvement, and loyal, engaged associates—all of which will support the longevity of your business and overall success.


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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Easy Monetary Policy – “Morphine” for the Economy

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Quantitative easing. Low interest rate environment. Easy money. Kick the can down the road. We have all heard those phrases in recent years as the government continues its grand economic experiment in an effort to stimulate the economy.

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While the intention was to stimulate, I would argue that this continued easing has served as more of an “economic morphine” used to dull the pain of a slow-growth economic recovery desperately in need of surgery to repair years of unwise spending and unprecedented debt levels. This morphine has falsely propped up equity markets, pushed more risk into the system and created a lending environment where banks are throwing caution to the wind to create business. Though for many it feels like things are going well. That’s the morphine at work.

I recently talked with Reuters on the surge in commercial and industrial lending and the potential economic fallout. In the article, I emphasized the risks that some banks are taking as liquidity grows and the pressure and competition to make loans intensifies. With interest rates held historically low and liquidity high, many banks are willing to make riskier loans with little-to-no collateral, lax or reduced terms and collateral packages.

All this lending hasn’t led to economic expansion, but rather refinancing. The credit is simply moving from bank to bank. For those not refinancing existing debt, many are using these loans to replace equipment with near zero cost money.

At UMB, we continue to lend and believe in the strength of the private sector and the good of capitalism. We will continue to be prudent in our lending practices and maintain the necessary terms and standards for responsible lending. As a nation, we can no longer accept the morphine and avoid the reality of our economic situation. The time has come for surgery. This surely will be a painful process as rates normalize and necessary spending cuts are made. However, this is what is needed to ensure the long-term health of our economy and country.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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Thank you to our veterans

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I was recently at an event hosted by Facing History‡, an organization that creates history curriculum that teaches kids to be more tolerant. One of the speakers at the event was a girl who received an award for an art project. Her guest that evening was her grandmother, a holocaust survivor. They told an amazing story and I walked away from that event with a renewed commitment to never forget our men and women in uniform.

Staff Sergeant James D. Shearer, United States Air Force, and Mariner KemperUMB Bank Colorado honored veterans,
including Staff Sergeant James D.
Shearer, United States Air Force.

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As the last of the World War II survivors pass on, I am reminded that my children, and frankly anyone younger than 60, don’t really know what it is to sacrifice in a time of war. We are currently in at least two wars right now. But do you notice on a daily basis? The answer is probably no. There are no food rations. Or fuel taxes to support the war. It is a shameful reality of our society.

As our men and women return from combat duty, they are not greeted with a hero’s welcome. We expect them to reintegrate into a society that has not acknowledged their sacrifices. Or the sacrifices of their families. These people have volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. To protect our children. They ensure we can continue to live our lives uninterrupted.

My father served in the Navy and he still maintains the sense of pride they instilled in him so many years ago. It is incredible to see how these veterans have somehow managed to maintain the lost art of social graces and respect. They stand when someone enters the room and say sir and ma’am, while the rest of us seem to have forgotten how to treat each other.

So, what can we do to support these fine men and women? First and foremost, we can say thank you. We can give up our prime seat on an airplane or offer to pick up their sandwich at the local deli. A thank you can go a long way. But it’s not enough. There are numerous organizations in your communities that are specifically designated to assist veterans and their families, especially those in need. Below you will find a list of websites and resources in your community.

This has always been a passion of mine, and of UMB’s. We celebrate veterans with an annual event across our footprint and help the Marines with their Toys for Tots program. We hire as many veterans as possible. But we could, and should be doing more. Send us your ideas on how we can support veterans in our communities. This is a group effort. We should find as many ways to show our gratitude as possible.

And to veterans past, present and future: Thank you. Thank you for volunteering to protect millions of people you have never met. Thank you for ensuring we have the freedom to express our thoughts and for protecting our rights and liberties. There is no other place in the world where you have the ability to build something; to create a business in our unique free market system. And it is because of these brave men and women. Thank you, from all of us.

Resources:

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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UMB celebrates 100 years

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Welcome to the new UMB Blog! The UMB leadership team and I plan to use this blog to communicate our ideas and perspectives in an effort to humanize an industry that struggles with a negative reputation (for good reason). We are here to remind the world that there is so much good happening in the private sector. Jobs are being created and capitalism is something to be celebrated, not feared.

As UMB celebrates its 100th anniversary, I reflect on the principles that got us here, and one thing is clear. Doing what’s right is the only option. It’s our responsibility and it is non-negotiable. I believe the values that we have followed over the last century are deeply rooted at UMB. We have had continuity of leadership and as cheesy as it sounds, our entire team is like family.

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The right thing is not always the popular choice. I’ve come to believe that what becomes popular in business is often what is easiest. We should always be suspect of easy paths. I don’t understand why, but some people can get sucked into doing what’s wrong because it’s easy. Or perhaps because it provides instant gratification.

Additionally, I find that far too often businesses hide behind the law. Just because something is “legal” does not make it the right thing to do. A person’s legacy is based on what kind of moral compass they lived by. I am incredibly thankful to have multiple role models that have taught me so many valuable lessons. My dad has passed down his principles to me just like his father did with him, and his father did for him. I’m proud of the legacy they have left at UMB.

I’m not saying we are perfect. We have certainly made mistakes. But our guiding principles remain strong and our commitment to doing what’s right will not waver.

Today, I had the opportunity to open the Nasdaq. The moment represented not only a commemoration of UMB’s success, but a celebration of a free market system and the positive impact banking has in America. It was a moment to pause and appreciate all that UMB has done over the last 100 years and what the individual associates and customers have meant to the company. It was also an opportunity to envision the next 100 years. We have a lot of work to do to repair the public’s trust in our industry and reestablish the benefits the financial industry provide our economy and our society.

Thank you to all of our customers, associates and communities for an amazing 100 years! We look forward to another 100 years of providing our customers with the same high level support, stability and integrity that you’ve come to expect from us. And I look forward to interacting with you all on this blog!

NASDAQ UMB Opening Bell_Kemper, deSilva, Hagedorn

 

Bank deposit products provided by UMB Bank n.a., Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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