Case Study:
Padelford Riverboats

Company Profile

Founded in 1969 by Capt. William D. Bowell, Sr., the Padelford Riverboat Company operates from Harriet Island Regional Park in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. Since that time, Padelford Riverboats have entertained more than four million passengers.

The company began with a single vessel, the Jonathan Padelford. Today the company runs three U.S. Coast Guard-licensed passenger vessels—two tour boats and one charter party boat. In addition, they operate the permanently moored Minnesota Centennial Showboat Theater in partnership with the University of Minnesota.

Before he retired in 2002, Capt. Bowell completed restoration on the showboat theater, which had burned to the water-line a year earlier. The University was unable to replace the showboat with the available funds, so the Padelford Riverboat Company contributed more than $300,000 to help out. They’ve run the theater in partnership ever since. 


Padelford stayed with the same bank for several years but experienced a "revolving door" of bankers. The bank itself was fine, but that was only half the equation. Capt. Steve Bowell, Padelford's president, also wanted a strong and steady relationship with an individual banker.

When the company decided to restructure their debt and sell part of their fleet, they knew the time was right to compare different options. Among the banks was Alerus Financial's commercial banking division. 


"Businesses don’t just switch banks on a whim," Steve explains. "It took somewhere between six months to a year for the guys at Alerus to convince us to come over. I knew if they invested that much energy in getting our business, they would work equally as hard to help us prosper."

"In the process we found Alerus offers some unique services, and that helped us turn the corner on our decision. One of them is the ability to transfer money from accounts at other banks into our Alerus account. It's such a seamless process—unbelievably advantageous. And it helps our cash flow tremendously."

"When we were interviewing banks, Alerus came up with lending terms that no one else could match—terms that fit our exact circumstances. We're unlike any other business, but they took the time to really understand how we operate and how we make money," Steve says. "It's obvious we each want the other organization to succeed."

In the end, there’s no question about it, according to Steve, "the most important aspect of business banking is the relationship. When I call, I can get any member of the Alerus commercial banking team. They make me feel as though I am the most important person in the world and that they can help me through anything."

"I could tell you many stories of them going above and beyond the call of duty. Suffice it to say that they've been very, very good." 





Padelford Riverboat Co.
Harriet Island, St. Paul, MN

Business Type


Services Used

Commercial Banking
Business Checking
Business Line of Credit
Remote Deposit
Online Banking and Bill Pay
Merchant Card Services
Cash Collection

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