Some fathers have a good thing. Some fathers have a good thing and keep it going. In sports, there’s Laila and Muhammad Ali. In music, there’s Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus. At the movies, you find Jaden and Will Smith, Colin and Tom Hanks, and dozens of others. And don’t forget the George Bushs in politics and Ivanka and Donald Trump in business.
Lance Hamman, owner of the Thrivent Financial office in Milbank, saw his father Wally’s work and, at age 12, decided he had a good thing. “I knew where I would end up, it was just a matter of when,” he said. Lance explained he was drawn to the joy he witnessed as he watched his dad helping people who were struggling and saw the relationships he built. “I could see all the good being done, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Lance didn’t just take over the business from his father, though. He is the third generation of the Hamman family with Thrivent. Wally spent over 30 years with the company as Thrivent Financial and as Aid Association for Lutherans before it became Thrivent. He joined the company in November 1984, and retired in December 2015. All those years were spent in Milbank. Wally’s father, Wallace, was an agent with Aid Association for Lutherans for 19 years. He served people in the Waubay, Summit, Wilmot, and Milbank areas. His wife, Lance’s grandmother, was his secretary.
In keeping with tradition, Wally and his wife Diane worked side-by-side for over 30 years. “It was a unique opportunity,” Wally said. “People say they could never work side-by-side with their spouse everyday, but we didn’t have any issues.”
Wally and Lance also worked together 14 years in the Milbank office, before Lance purchased it. “Longevity and stability is what we have always strived for,” Wally said. “Our members truly appreciate our long-standing family roots in this business. A key ingredient for me before I retired was having someone who could handle the business.”
The father and son duo worked hard to get to that point. They are very close, but maintained a professional relationship at the office. “Outside the office, we spent a lot of time together and had a lot of fun,” stated Lance. “But, when we’d step foot in the office, it was all business.”
Through the years, they both grew as people and as professionals. “Everyday wasn’t great and we didn’t agree on everything,” Lance said. “But, I think that was good. We found it was okay to disagree, and we learned to listen more and see things from someone else’s perspective. That, in turn, helped us find the best solution for our members. That’s always our number one goal.”
Wally nodded and said, “Family are the first people you think about in the morning and the last people you think about at night. You go the extra mile for them. We have deep connections like that with our members. They truly are our adopted family.”
He went on to say, “To see Lance succeed in the business we built is great. He has been super successful since I retired. My goal was to take what my dad put on the books and multiply that five or 10 times. Now it’s Lance’s turn. To see him doing that gives me peace of mind.”
“Thrivent is definitely a family first organization,” Lance said. “My grandpa and dad taught me that early on, and I carry it with me everyday of my life.”