Never too old to keep banking

As banks merge to survive changes in today’s financial climate, Coast National Bank’s Dick Bardini believes community banks walk the customer service walk. After 58 years in the business, he says he’s seen it all and prefers smaller branch banks.

“People ask why I’m working at 80,” Bardini said. “I don’t have to work, but I love to work. It keeps you young. I love the community bank because we have a personal relationship with our customers. And I love the kids I work with.”

Over the years, Bardini enjoyed mentoring his protégés, promoting them to successful positions. When Coast downsized, he moved Tessa Fields from Los Osos to be his branch manager, and he is trusting Lisa Brumit with more responsibility.

Born in San Francisco, he studied for the priesthood but found it wasn’t what he wanted. He answered a newspaper advertisement by Crocker Bank in Palo Alto.

“My boss took a chance on me. I had no experience or banking skills, but he had a feeling about me. He put me in collections. On my first day, my supervisor was hospitalized, so he put me in charge and left me to figure it out. I was pretty green and have tales I could tell, but I’m saving them for my book,” he joked.

By 25, he was recruited as assistant manager for Central Valley Bank in San Mateo, and then he spent 12 years with Charter Bank of London in San Francisco.

It bought Union Bank and promoted him to manager. Next, he was vice president and hub manager for WestAmerica Bank in Lakeport, until his mom needed him.

“I was an only child, and she was 86,” he said. “I retired to help her in Shell Beach.”

His friend Jack Wauchope, who is now chairman and CEO of Coast National, talked him out of retirement to manage Morro Bay’s Commerce Bank.

He thrived on community involvement, serving on several Morro Bay boards: the Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Festival, Rotary Club and Morro Bay Beautiful.

When his mom died, he retired again to Palm Desert, but Wauchope enticed him back to Morro Bay to help him start Coast National Bank.

Bardini has been vice president and general manager for 12 years. He’s proud that their building enhanced Morro Bay Boulevard four years ago.

“It was an old battery store,” he said. “Now we are a beautiful building at the entrance to Morro Bay.”

Besides work, he’s become a world traveler. He’s convinced everyone should take a cruise.

However, a new career might steal him from banking. He’s been cast in “Tainted Black,” a film by Morro Bay’s Kerrigan Mahan. Cheers! Dick Bardini in the movies.

Find Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or judysalamacha@gmail.com.