We are kicking off 2017 with a spotlight on our founder and CEO Duane Lankard. Duane and two partners founded Suntell in 1996. After leaving to pursue other opportunities for a few years, he returned to Suntell as CEO in 2005 and has now been with the company 14 years out of its 20 years.
Duane was born on November 25, 1960 the same day and year as John F Kennedy, Jr . He grew up on a cattle and crop farming operation 10 miles between Richmond and Harris, KS. He graduated Kansas State University in 1982 with a BS degree in Agricultural Economics. After graduation he started his career as a loan officer at Merchants National Bank in the Agriculture and Correspondent Banking Division. Prior to leaving the bank to start Suntell, he was Sr. VP over the Agricultural Department and the Retail Services Division.
When asked what he likes best about Suntell, Duane could not pick one specific thing. He said, “The founding of Suntell allowed me to scratch the entrepreneur itch. It helped extend my experience in lending and work outs, while also solving an industry problem that was present in 1996 and continues today. The creation of the original loan management system which has evolved to the present day Square 1 Credit Suite has given me the once in a lifetime opportunity to build a business around something I am very passionate about when it comes to managing credit risk efficiently. As a CEO, I am in a unique position to say that I enjoy being in charge but not if it wasn’t for working with a great team of associates with an average tenure over 10 years that share a common vision.”
Duane is married to Treana Martin Lankard; together they have one son and two step-daughters. His wife is in the financial services industry with Fidelity Investments. They enjoy playing golf, snow skiing, biking and walking together and claim to be amateur ‘foodies’ trying as many different restaurants as possible each weekend in the very vibrant KC food scene.
Duane has made it his mission the past 5 years to participate in as many Kansas City area charity bike runs that he can. “This is my way of helping others while trying to stay active and fit. I try to average 10 biking fundraisers a years to help raise funds for cancer, diabetes, mental illness, new biking routes and a host of other social causes that are important to me.” Duane said.
In his 34 years, Duane has learned enough to fill a book. He really feels that no matter how good the product, you must have strong company integrity and ethics in all areas that when working with a prospect or a customer. “So many of our customers have been burned by other fly by night vendors over the years, that we work all the harder to show and prove we were different. It is easy to say, but entirely different to do.” Duane stated.
When asked what his favorite feature of Suntell is, Duane does not have a favorite. He responded, “If every feature does not have a benefit, then it would not have been included in the Square 1 Credit Suite. While we always invest in more and better enhancements, the Square 1 Credit Suite as it exists today has been a great realization of my original dream to solve the industry problem that I sought to solve back in 1996.”