Bravo! Entrepreneur Award Winners: Joe Fazio

Joe Fazio
Joe Fazio

Last updated on June 26th, 2019 at 04:22 pm

Joe Fazio

Chairman and CEO

Commerce State Bank

West Bend

Employees: 80

When Joe Fazio, Tom Hopp, David Borchardt and Kevin Volm decided to open Commerce State Bank in West Bend, they had seen a need for a locally-owned bank focused on small and medium-sized businesses in that area.

Planting local roots, they secured about 200 individual shareholders from across southeastern Wisconsin who helped them raise $12 million in capital before opening the bank’s first location in 2005.

Fourteen years later, the bank has expanded to 350 shareholders, 80 employees, more than $650 million in total assets and four full-service branches in West Bend, Cedarburg, Elm Grove and Sheboygan.

As CEO, Fazio has led the company through numerous challenges, including the 2007 financial industry crisis, which taught him how to deal with unpredictable situations.

“You can’t predict everything that’s going to happen, yet you have to somehow either be prepared for it or be strong enough to work through it,” Fazio said.

When he’s not at work, Fazio gives presentations to high school and college students on personal finance and money management, and in 2017 he wrote a book called, “This Might Be a Dumb Question But… How Does Money Work?”

He said that passion for helping others understand finance informs his day-to-day interactions with clients and drives the company’s mission.

“We approach it as, ‘We’re the experts in this stuff; we have the knowledge. We just want to make it simple for you… so you can keep focusing on your business and growing it.’”

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.