Larry Accola, President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire
Larry: Pittsville, WI. It’s the exact geographical center of state.
Larry: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Originally, I majored in Engineering, but decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to do for a career, so I switched to Business.
I had never considered banking, but one of my professors mentioned there was an opening at Midland Bank in Milwaukee. At the time I worked for Mobil Oil Corporation in Milwaukee. I went to Midland and talked to their HR representative and she encouraged me to consider banking so I could be involved with many different types of businesses. From there, I solicited interviews with several banks in the area and started at what is now, US Bank.
I have never regretted choosing banking. I also completed the Graduate School of Banking three year program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Larry: I have four children – two boys and two girls – and they’re all grown up. Three of them live near Seattle and the other lives in Austin, TX.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Larry: One of my customers asked me recently if I ever considered retiring. I honestly haven’t because I really enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy people and I enjoy commercial lending. I really like being involved with businesses and being a part of their success. I’ve learned a lot from different businesses over the years and I like applying that experience to the businesses I’m working with now to offer helpful solutions and suggestions.
What’s the most important financial lesson you’ve learned in your life?
Larry: Money is of course important and necessary but regardless of compensation, one has to enjoy and bring value to what they do for a living.
What does community banking mean to you?
Larry: Being part of a team. I think banking relationships should be transparent and not adversarial. Ultimately, what’s good for the bank is generally good for the customer and working together with their other professional advisors to make the customer successful is what it’s all about.
I like that we bring value to our customer relationships and create partnerships rather than just concentrating on the services we offer. Making customers successful also brings benefits to their employees and their communities.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Larry: I don’t know…I grew up on a dairy farm and I knew I probably didn’t want to do that. You have to be at the farm all the time and that’s a big commitment. It was a great place to grow up though. Honestly, I don’t know if I really said “this is what I want to be.”
What do you do when you’re not working?
Larry: Unfortunately, my grandkids do not live nearby, but I have some close friends that let me “stand in” as grandpa for their kids. I go to their sporting events to cheer them on, which is a lot of fun. I enjoy pretty much any spectator sport…football, basketball, soccer. I am a casual hunter and I am currently mentoring an 11 year old boy. I also like reading about the finance and banking industry. I just enjoy learning and every day realize how much there is to know.
Tell us something we don’t know.
Larry: What’s that phrase they say? “You can take the boy off of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.” I have three antique tractors, which reminds me of my past. One of them is actually the same make and model as a tractor we had on the home farm. I also had the unique spectrum of experience of attending a one room country school for 8 grades and finishing my education at a 40,000 student urban university.
Learn more about Merchants Bank on our website.