A geologist's approach to farm and finance.
Geologist Bob Geddes always has a rock in hand whether he’s on vacation or on the job. From growing up on a farm near Preston, Idaho, to working the phosphate mines near Soda Springs, Idaho, Geddes had a keen interest in the terra firma we call home. And somewhere along the way, that keen interest in geology landed him in politics.
“Surprisingly, there’s a lot of overlap in my interests,” Geddes says. “If you’re in business and you don’t understand politics, you’re not going to be very successful.”
The Farming Business
Geddes grew up on a farm 12 miles north of Preston. His family raised wheat, barley, alfalfa and some livestock. Between crops and cows, there were plenty of chores that instilled a strong work ethic in him.
“From a very young age, I worked on our farm with my father and brothers,” Geddes says. “I was raised with a lot of responsibility, and its seems like that’s kind of how I’ve lived my life.”
But his farm background didn’t turn him into a farmer. It turned him into a rock scientist. “I enjoyed science and filled my college science classes with chemistry, math and geology,” Geddes says. “I really thought a career in geology would be a good balance with agriculture. After all, everything we use comes from a mine or a farm.”
The Mining Business
The mining business grabbed Geddes as a fresh Utah State University graduate in 1981. As a Monsanto environmental engineer and geologist, Geddes was in charge of keeping the mine and manufacturing plant in compliance with environmental standards. That charge sent him into political circles.
“Environmental laws, regulations and rules are established by the political and sometimes scientific processes,” he says. “Sometimes you can work to temper the impact or change those laws by being involved and working with government regulators.”
Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt appointed Geddes to fill a senate vacancy in 1995. He was majority caucus chair by 1998 and president pro tempore from 2000 to 2010.
The Financing Business
Geddes resigned as senator in 2011 to become the director of the Idaho State Tax Commission. Accounting is not his area of expertise, but what Geddes brought to the financial table was beyond monetary measure.
“We had plenty of ‘numbers people,’” he says. “I was more concerned about ensuring all of those ‘numbers people’ understood there was a human element, even an art, to collecting taxes.” Currently, Geddes is director of Idaho’s Department of Administration because of his success improving the tax commission’s image.
“I’m most proud of the fact that I always tried to represent the people of Idaho to the best of my ability,” Geddes says. “The positions I’ve held prove it wasn’t just about me.”
He’s also serving as a member of Zions Bank’s Eastern Idaho Advisory Board. His family’s history with the bank goes back several generations.
“I like the way Zions does business,” he says. “My family, my dad’s, my grandpa’s and my great-grandpa’s families banked in Logan, Utah, with First National Bank of Utah, which was purchased by Zions. Our families have been a part of the Zions Bank family for a long time.”