Iowa Regional President
In 2019, Steve Caves celebrated 43 years in banking – all with US Bank and its predecessor institutions, Merchants and Firstar. All those years have been spent in the same historic building in downtown Cedar Rapids at 222 Second Avenue SE.
Growing up, Steve was surrounded by a loving family in Ottumwa and extended family in Cedar Rapids. He was influenced by his grandfather for his curiosity and interest in continued learning, and by his father who was a banker in Ottumwa. After graduation from the University of Iowa in 1975, Steve knew he wanted to get into banking like his father and live in Cedar Rapids. After exhausting the hiring manager with persistent inquiries, Steve was hired at Merchants Bank in the mailroom to get his foot in the door. During his early career at the bank, Steve married his wife, Suzanne, and then raised three children, David, Melissa, and Michael. When asked what Steve’s greatest success is, Dwight Hughes said, “Suzanne and his family. The bank is second.”
As Steve would say, God placed the right people in his life who served as mentors. After the mail room, he was promoted to teller and then to mortgage loans where Nadine Wax, a Vice President in the Mortgage Department, taught him the importance of being an expert in his field of choice. Still eager to learn more about the banking industry, when a commercial position opened Steve was a natural fit. There he worked with Commercial Vice President Dick Salat, from whom he learned the importance of developing personal relationships with customers. As Steve was promoted within the commercial loan department, the industry started to become more competitive and aggressive. Then president, Henry Royer, taught Steve the need to take care of customers and to strongly acquire customers to grow their base. When Henry Royer retired, Jim Lang, Firstar Iowa CEO, gave the job to Steve, and at only 41 he was named president and CEO of Firstar Cedar Rapids. Within a year, he was named president and CEO of Firstar Iowa, helping to make it the strongest regional bank in the state.
Steve has helped shape business models and brands over his career, helped paved the way for women in banking and started one of the first sponsorship groups for women at US Bank. As a leader for US Bank’s Wealth Management business during the last four years of his career, he and his team of 800 professionals did business in 24 states, collectively managing $37 billion in assets. “He always puts his ego and his personal agenda aside for the well-being of the whole,” said Coe College president Dave McInally. Known for thinking outside the box, Steve’s entrepreneurial spirit shines in his work with brand building, business and strategic models, operating procedures, products, channel delivery for affluent and high net worth customers, and creating and building teams.
US Bank President Curt Heideman describes Steve as a “consistent source of balance, fairness, professionalism and compassion for his direct employees, as well as the many in Cedar Rapids and across US Bank who look to him as an example for how to adapt and change while always doing the right thing for our customers and employees.”
Steve also shares his leadership skills with numerous boards, committees and philanthropic organizations. He feels strongly about supporting education, the arts and various social programs. Some of the organizations Steve has been a part of are the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business Board of Visitors, the Cedar Rapids Symphony Board, the Priority One Board, the Juvenile Diabetes Walk, Waypoint, and the Economic Alliance Education Committee. Steve is currently serving as a board member or trustee for the Kirkwood Community Foundation Board, Coe College, Unity Point Health- Cedar Rapids, Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa, and the Red Cedar Chamber Music. Steve has been honored with the Howard Hall Excellence in Business award, as a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary and among the Corridor’s “Most Influential” in the inaugural edition.