Metro-East News

August 4, 2014

Second passion: Belleville attorney keeps hand in banking

Belleville attorney Brad Badgley's new role as the board chairman of Bank Star One, a subsidiary of the St. Louis-based BancStar Inc., is not his first as a bank board member. The lifelong Belleville resident has served as a director of Fairview Heights Community Bank in the 1980s, Magna Trust Co. until 1997 and the Magna/Leader Funds until 2005. His father, Bill Badgley, was the longtime Chief Executive Officer of Magna Bank, which later became Regions Bank. Business writer Will Buss recently visited Brad Badgley's law office in downtown Belleville to talk about his latest appointment and life practicing law.

Q: What is Bank Star One?

A: "It's a bank, part of a Missouri bank holding company."

Q: How did you get appointed to the board?

A: "The (Joe) Stewart family opened a bank in Cahokia. My father was a banker, formerly with the Magna Group in Belleville, and purchased that bank in Cahokia. Joe retired for a few years and rode around in a bass boat but decided to get back in the banking business in the early '80s. He purchased a bank in the Lake of the Ozarks and eventually bought one in Fulton, Mo. That bank, which is known as Bank Star One, has locations not only in the Lake of the Ozarks and Fulton, but in New Bloomfield, Mo. I've known the family over the years, but that came to an end. My family had gone to the Lake of the Ozarks since I was child. We camped, houseboated, we've done it all. My father raised his family there, I raised my family and my brother raised his family there. Joe as looking for a director and asked if I would serve. I have done so since 1998. Our most recent chairman recently retired and he had served since 2004. So they needed a replacement and they decided that I would serve in that role."

Q: Why have you served on bank boards?

A: "Banking has always been my second love. Just staying in touch with (Stewart) over the years and having an opening on his board, they were wanting someone involved. Given my background, it sort came together in that way."

Q: What do you bring to the board?

A: "I think the critical thing is a problem all banks deal with are the regulatory hoops they have to jump through. They border on being onerous. You're looking now at banks, even small banks with staffs of even one or two full-time employees, doing nothing but dealing with regulations, which is an expense that goes to the bottom line and in and of itself does not generate any profit. But that's the way it is. You've got to comply if you want to do business. ...In terms of my involvement, it's been to an extent as a trustee charting the course through regulatory paths and regulatory issues that come up."

Q: "What led you to practicing law?

A: "My father was a lifelong banker for First National Bank of Belleville, the Magna Group, until he retired. I worked at the bank as a teller and before I graduated from law school. Although we were very close, my dad told me flat out that he thought I would be better off if I found something better to do just because of the changes coming in the banking industry. He thought I would be better off charting my own course, and I'm grateful for that, but still had an opportunity to remain involved in banking."

Q: Where have you practiced law?

A: "I was born and raised in Belleville and have practiced in this location. I came out of school looking for a job and talked to a gentleman practicing in the same spot, Rick Heiligenstein. I worked with him for a few years. He actually owned (this and another building next door). When he retired, I kept this building and he donated the other building to the city of Belleville, which opened it for Art on the Square. This was the old Central Cigar store. It was a hang out with pool tables, a shoe shine, a lunch spot."

Q: When did you start practicing?

A: "I started in 1978. That is 36 years. I started practicing in March 1978."

Q: How has your practice changed over the years?

A: "That's sort of a tough question. I represent solely injured people or families who have lost loved ones. In terms of what you're trying to accomplish, that has always been the same, even though it is a much tougher environment that we practice in now. Jurors are more skeptical. Contrary to what most people think, it's a difficult job to accomplish what needs to get accomplished."

Q: How has the community changed in that time?

A: "In terms of the city, I think we are fortunate that the city and county to have a mayor (Mark Eckert) who is doing the best he can. I think he is subject to controversy from time to time, but I get here early and I always see his car and see him walking the street. I get in at 6 in the morning. I always see him there. (St. Clair County Board Chairman) Mark Kern has devoted a lot of his time and effort when there are other endeavors he could pursue. I think we're fortunate to have both gentlemen doing the best they can. I think the interesting thing about Belleville, being a lifelong resident, is that it never really per se 'boomed,' but never per se 'busted.' When I started practicing, you probably had more manufacturing going on in terms of foundries and some of the heavier industry, but still have some of the stalwarts like Belleville Shoe Co., where I worked in high school, I worked for Homer Weidmann, and Empire, which is a fantastic company. ... I think probably now we're seeing more health care employees because of the hospitals and more government employees. I think to an extent we're seeing some benefit that some people doing a reverse commute from St. Louis, especially with the new (Stan Musial Veterans Memorial) bridge."

Q: What is the most interesting advancement you have witnessed in your time serving on bank boards?

A: "The most interesting thing about banks today is most facilities, whether they are the main banking offices or small bank offices, they do less transactions in a week that they would normally do in a day. Friday night was the big day in banking. You'd come in and do your deposit and visit with the banker. It was sort of a social event. Now, everyone wants to do everything on the Internet. They don't want to mess with that. It's a transition that the bank industry is dealing with. They have a lot of buildings and brick-and-mortar that is probably not justified by how people are doing their banking business now."

Name: Brad Badgley

Job: Attorney at 26 Public Square in Belleville (618-235-1000)

Outlook: "Banking has always been my second passion."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 618-239-2526.

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