With a four-decade track record in banking, Bruce Marzotto has gotten to the point where he’s now helping finance businesses in the third generation of the same family.
A West Stockbridge native, Marzotto has spent his entire career in Western Massachusetts after graduating from Berkshire Community College. He started out in collections at the Pittsfield branch of First Agricultural Bank. After 23 years with Berkshire Bank, a family birthday party led to a chance encounter with former Lee Bank CEO David Bruce, who piqued Marzotto’s interest in returning to community banking in 2007.
“He knew I was a banker and I knew who he was,” Marzotto said. “He gave me an opportunity to come back to a community bank, and I’ve never regretted it.”
The timing of the move at the outset of the Great Recession spotlighted the values of community bankers, Marzotto said.
“The economy was tough, but David Bruce sat down and said, ‘Reach out to every customer. I don’t care how much they owe, and see if we can work with them,’” Marzotti recalled. “Other banks were throwing people out the door. Fortunately, the customers appreciated it and stayed local.”
As one of the most prolific loan officers at Lee Bank, which granted 164 commercial loans totaling $21 million in 2016, Marzotto said quick turnaround is just part of his working style.
“My belief is you get it done as fast as possible,” he said. “It’s not unusual that a customer calls me in the morning and we have the paperwork ready for them the same day.”
Commitment letters can be available within two or three days, he said, and loans that need board of director approval are sent out electronically to members to expedite the process.
Other transactions, though more complex, have brought economic development benefits to the region. Last year, Lee Bank provided financing and consulting services to a growing local company that had minimal capital and felt underserved by its existing financial institution, Marzotto said. Lee Bank helped the company purchase a facility through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s Jobs New England program. The financing package enabled the company to consolidate their operations in Berkshire County, retaining 14 jobs and hiring an additional eight employees within months.
Beyond his commercial lending focus, Marzotto is active as a volunteer in community efforts to increase affordable housing. He serves as a trustee and clerk of the Great Barrington Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, an organization formed in late winter to put distressed properties back on the market. The organization is raising funds to rehabilitate municipal properties acquired through tax-takings and sell them as deed-restricted affordable housing.
Without such efforts, Western Massachusetts’ tourism industry is likely to struggle, he said.
“They actually have to go over the (New York) state line to find affordable housing or go to different towns,” he said. “We have a hard time keeping employees.”