PADUCAH BANK IS AN ACKNOWLEDGED LEADER in the local financial community and around the state of Kentucky. In fact, it’s the best place to work in the commonwealth! (As if you didn’t know that already!)
So it’s no surprise that the bank attracts customers who are also the best at what they do. One catch of a customer that the bank is proud to have reeled in is Paducah resident and professional fisherman Mark Menendez!
From the first time Mark pulled back his rod and reel and flicked a hopeful piece of bait into the murky waters of a local lake, he said his future was set. “I knew I wanted to fish from the beginning,” Mark says. “I entered my first tournament at ten years old and won my first bass club championship at fifteen.”
Mark was firmly hooked! He entered his first professional tournament in 1987 and, just a few years later, joined B.A.S.S. and began competing in Bassmaster tournament events. His dedication for fishing runs so deep that he even completed a degree program in Fishery Biology at Murray State University.
Mark then worked as a real-estate agent while building his fishing career. Without any major sponsors, Mark turned to Larry Rudolph in 1989 for a loan on his first bass boat. That first loan turned into a twenty-year relationship between Larry and Mark.
“Larry went over to Paducah Bank, and my business followed him there.” And to Mark, that personal relation- ship is what it’s all about. “Larry makes it simple and easy. We live in a time where people don’t get simple answers. But with Larry, I get those answers. When I do business with Larry and Paducah Bank, I find myself on a level that you don’t get with the conglomerates.” And such a relationship allows Mark to focus on fishing.
Now, over seventeen years later, Mark no longer has to worry about sponsorships. With twelve top-ten finishes, an all-time B.A.S.S. Big Bass record catch in 1999, and a top ranking among worldwide fishermen, he has attracted corporate backers such as Yamaha Outboard Motors, Skeeter Boats, and Strike King Lures, just to name a few. Mark has gone on to qualify for many of the B.A.S.S. major tournaments and has taken home top honors in several. In February 2005, however, Mark’s career was temporarily placed on hold as he faced a life-threatening illness.
“I was fishing at a B.A.S.S. event in Alabama when I got sick,” Mark explains. He was taken to a hospital where he was told he had a severe case of viral Meningitis, an infection that attacks the fluid around the spinal cord and the brain. “There was a chance that I wasn’t going to make it.” But Mark’s resolve to return to his wife and children and to the sport he loved pulled him through.
The recovery wasn’t easy, however. “I had to have therapy for a while,” added Mark. “It was a hard road.” But later that year, Mark returned to the waters to once again cast out his line at the Southern Open, one of the B.A.S.S. major tournaments. Even though his strength had not fully returned, he used all his knowledge and skill to win the tournament and take home top prize. It was a feat that sent instant waves of inspiration throughout the fishing community.
Even though Mark has spent many days out on the lakes and rivers of the United States (as many as 330 in a single year), he finds himself now doing more traveling to make personal appearances and work as a commentator for ESPN. “I’ve been doing commentary for ESPN as they televise the tournaments. This year we will be doing live weigh-ins for the first time on television.”
But even if Mark is a front-runner for the sport of fishing, it’s his traveling companion that gets most of the attention. Barkley, Mark’s golden Labrador, is at his side at every fishing event. “I picked him up from an animal rescue in Georgia. He’s been traveling with me for the past five years. People recognize Barkley more than me, now,” Mark says as his hand slips down to give his pal a quick rub on the head. His furry friend has even been referred to as an event winner with Mark listed as Barkley’s companion!
But after thirty years in sport fishing, Mark’s resolve for the sport he loves has not waned. He remains steadfast and fixed on being the best at what he does. When asked what the secret is to being a great fisherman, Mark simply replies, “Pure diligence. I’ve been completely focused on it since I was ten.”
It’s no wonder that the very best in banking attracts the very best in customers.