The Federal Reserve Board of Governors recently selected John (Jake) W. Marvin, chairman and CEO of the Warroad, Minn.–based window and door manufacturer The Marvin Cos., to serve a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
A graduate of Parsons College with a law degree from the University of Houston, the 62-year-old Marvin represents the third generation to run his family’s company, which traces its roots to a grain elevator and lumberyard that George Marvin, Jake’s grandfather, managed in 1904. Marvin joined the company in 1974, became CEO in 2000, and chairman in 2001.
He was first selected to the Minneapolis bank in 2006. Marvin heads a nine-person board that oversees the bank’s operations in six states.
Q: Has your tenure at the bank given you any new perspective about government or about running your own company?
A: I’ll never read the newspaper the same way again. The press in general doesn’t understand what the bank is doing. But I was surprised with the capability and horsepower of the Federal Reserve system; very professional, very smart people. They are far superior public servants than I had expected, and I continue to be impressed.
Q: How does each of the 12 Reserve banks influence the Fed’s national priorities and policies?
A: Ten times a year, all of the banks’ directors—there are about 100 of us—meet to talk about their states and regions, and their industries. The bank’s questions are very specific: They want to know what’s happening on the ground right now, and if you can see a few months ahead. Within the banks there are also work groups that research important economic questions, on both an applied and theoretical level.
Q: The Marvin Cos. hasn’t laid off workers during the recession. As a banker and CEO, was it tough reconciling the welfare of your workers and your company’s profitability?
A: Not at all. When my grandfather ran the business he had eight employees all the way through the Great Depression. The mindset and tradition are that we’re all in this thing together. We burned through a lot of capital short of laying people off. And our other goal, which we also achieved, was to maintain our generous insurance program.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.