Out of Office: Mark Bragelman

Mark Bragelman
Mark Bragelman of Liberty Bank Minnesota collects vintage guitars.

Mark Bragelman, CEO and president of $270 million-asset Liberty Bank Minnesota in St. Cloud, Minn., has played guitar for decades, including onstage at the community bank’s annual block party.

I was 8 or 9 years old when I started taking classical guitar lessons. Actually, my folks took me to a place to see if I wanted to learn how to play the accordion. In the corner of the store, they had these guitars, and I was really happy about that, because I learned music and theory.

Now I collect guitars, and I like to collect old vintage instruments. We have a room in the bank that we call the Vault. [It’s] a huge two-story room of memorabilia. It’s really been fun to find that stuff and be able to collect it.

For 31 years, [Liberty Bank Minnesota] has done a block party, [which] has been a really phenomenal success. A summer ago, about halfway through [the event], the lead singer from the opening act looked at me and said, “I don’t know if I can go on.” The band is looking at each other like, “What are we going to do?” I said, “Well, let’s have some fun.” I grabbed the guitar and went up there. And the looks on the headlining band’s faces because they spent the last eight hours [seeing me] as Mr. Banker.

[Customers] get the biggest kick out of that. I had a customer that, while I was up there playing; he took a video. I heard later that he sent this text to a friend of his: “My banker is cooler than your banker.”

Courtney Welu is an editorial assistant of Independent Banker.