Longtime Steamboat banker Paul Clavadetscher retires from Centennial Bank
Steamboat Springs — When Paul Clavadetscher moved to Steamboat Springs and became the president of Community First bank in 1993, there were only three banks in town: Community First, Norwest Bank and First National Bank of Steamboat Springs.
Among his fondest memories of 21 years spent as a bank president in Steamboat are those early days with his colleagues John Kerst, who was with Norwest at the time, and James Simon, of First National, which is now Vectra Bank.
“I always remember how well we worked together,” Clavadetscher said about the bank presidents.
“We really worked closely together to fund and support different projects in town,” he said. “I think that was a really good cooperative endeavor for community.”
Clavadetscher retired from being president of Centennial Bank on May 30 — 21 years to the day after he started working in Steamboat Springs on June 1, 1993.
“I wanted to spend more time with my wife,” he said. “I’m going to be a grandfather for the first time in September.”
It was in a meeting with senior management this past spring, Clavadetscher said, that he decided to take a step back.
“I was listening to all the enthusiasm that everybody had,” he said. “I just realized my time had passed.
“It’s time to turn these things over. I moved here when I was 43. I had all those great ideas that weren’t always so great, and now it’s time for next generation to shape Steamboat.”
And for the first time, Clavadetscher said, he’s truly going to enjoy a Steamboat summer.
Clavadetscher said he wants to understand why people who can move anywhere in the world choose Steamboat Springs. “I want to do all those things they do.”
“Everybody thinks banking is an easy job,” Clavadetscher said. In fact, he’s worked 50-hour plus weeks his entire tenure in Steamboat Springs. “The only hike I’ve ever taken is to Rabbit Ears Pass.”
He plans to golf, fish, bike, hike and attend the free summer concerts that he’s always been too tired for in the past.
The first goal, he said, is to get back into physical shape.
“These last four or five years been somewhat stressful because of the economy Steamboat has experienced,” Clavadetscher said. “We’ve been dealing with neighbors and friends that have had economic problems or been forced to leave their homes.”
Being the president of a bank in a small community means you see clients at the grocery stores, community events and sports games, he said. “You pretty much know most of what’s going on with everybody.”
For the majority of the 21 years Clavadetscher has been in Steamboat, he said, its economy has gone along at a fairly even clip.
“Then we had this craziness of 2007 and 2006,” he said, “It wasn’t historical. It was so extreme.”
From 2009 to 2013, Clavadetscher said, he and Centennial Bank have been dealing with customers and trying to work out situations.
Clavadetscher said one of the things that he’s really proud of is that his bank only had three foreclosures during that period, where there more than 1,000 across the community.
For a man who’s been so involved with the community, Clavadetscher has a lot of other projects he’s proud of or greatly enjoyed being involved with.
“I’ve had great mentors and peers during my time when I was president of the Chamber and the Arts Council,” Clavadetscher said.
He was on the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association board for nine years, he said, and working with the organization was great. Being on the Steamboat Springs Arts Council board was a brand-new experience, he added.
Clavadetscher was involved in the Ten Plus Two Committee to address the needs of Steamboat Springs High School after a bond measure failed, and he played parts in the construction of Bud Werner Memorial Library and the baseball fields at Emerald Park.
“There are really amazing people in Steamboat Springs, people who can really get things done,” he said.
Clavadetscher also coached youth baseball and recalls chipping in for some equipment when Steamboat Springs High School wanted to start a lacrosse team.
“It’s such a wonderful, giving community,” he said. “Those are some of the things I’m going to miss not being more directly involved with.”
He said he’s also going to miss his employees, some of whom he’s worked with for 21 or 17 years.
“There’s a few businesses that I was able to finance that are doing well,” Clavadetscher said. “When you see that success, it really makes you feel good.
“I think I was just leaving on a good note. I’m really proud of some of my work with customers.”
Clavadetscher has been out of the office for a week now, but the thing he keeps coming back to is how much of a thrill it has been working with the clients of the banks he has lead.
“In Steamboat, you have all demographics of income, of race, religion,” he said. “It’s just a really interesting community of people to talk to from all over the world. You could really learn how different countries do banking. … It’s such an amazing town with different personalities that just kind of blend together.”
Clavadetscher is going to enjoy the community out from behind the desk this summer and spend time with family, but for someone who’s been so quick to volunteer and give back, stepping down won’t mean stepping back for long.
“I use the word retire,” he said. “I think that 39 years of banking is plenty. I might like to do something completely different, but I’m not sure what that is.”
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