Most people know Clay Bastian as a banker.
But how about Clay Bastian the biker? Or jazz historian?
There’s more to the president of Fidelity Financial Corp. than is perhaps immediately obvious.
Growing up, what did you think you’d like to do for a career?
I always assumed I’d be in the family business. It had an interest to me.
If you weren’t in banking, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine who’d hire me. Probably something in finance or accounting.
What was your degree from the University of Kansas?
Business administration. My focus was in finance marketing and jazz history.
Well, you’ve got to take some electives. I have been a music collector for the last 40 years. … Jazz, blues, funk, polka, gospel and Western.
No rock ’n’ roll?
When Jimi Hendrix died, I started getting into my parents’ Stan Getz records and Erroll Garner. I just went a different direction.
“Concerts By the Sea?” Oh, my god, it’s a classic. He was a self-taught pianist. … He didn’t read a note of music. I don’t know if he wrote “Misty,” but he certainly made “Misty” a standard.
Do you play music?
But weren’t you in the Fabulous Shirtheads years ago?
I have been retired for as long as I was in the band. It just kind of got to a point where it wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. It was time consuming and threatening what was left of my hearing. So it was time to move on.
Do you have hearing problems?
My ears are ringing now.
What instrument did you play?
So back to banking. What is your job?
I am the president of the Fidelity Financial Corporation, which is the holding company of Fidelity Bank and some real estate subsidiaries. I manage debt securities that the holding company’s issued. … I manage a number of real estate entities that own income property.
For your company or clients?
What’s your typical day?
I’m not sure I have a typical day. … Some days I’m dealing with lawyers and contracts, and other days I’m hiring tree trimmers and helping patch concrete floors.
Any career goals left?
I guess I’d say that I’m kind of one of the custodians of our family business, and passing it in good shape to the next generation is a career goal. Other than that, I want to see our business be the best it can be.
How much do you work with your brother, Clark?
Our paths cross more than most people think. We do have separate areas that we manage and administer, but we communicate daily. We discuss little things and big things. A lot of the larger corporate strategy we knock heads on. We have a really good relationship. We bounce ideas. We debate positions.
Is your brother older than you?
Oh, he’s much older.
Anything keep you up at night?
Not anymore. I’ve lived through 1989, which was … kind of the peak of the savings-and-loan crisis, and I lived through 2008 and 2009, which was the Great Recession. I feel like the ship took a torpedo or two, but we came out of both eras a better institution than we were in the beginning.
On a happier note, what do you do in your off time?
I do a little bit of motor biking. I do have a great passion for that. I am a motorhead. … I’m interested in things with four wheels, but two wheels are what I’m actively involved in.
What kind of bike or bikes do you have?
I’ve got on-road and off-road bikes.
Such as the KTM 950 Adventure in your photo?
It goes anywhere. It’s like a big dirt bike that you can ride on the highway.
How does your wife feel about this passion?
She’s been understanding if not supportive. She’s had some anxiety over some of the places I’ve gone and situations I’ve been in.
Last summer I went to South America and joined a small coast-to-coast tour, and we were in some pretty remote places of Argentina and Bolivia and Chile and Peru. There was one city that we were in that had a blockade by the citizens, kind of like the protests (here) only without the violence and the looting. … They let us pass because bikers are good people.
That’s kind of a blanket statement.
There’s a common passion and maybe a common struggle of enduring the roads and the elements.
Speaking of which, wasn’t there a particular incident you endured in Argentina last year?
There was a border crossing from Chile into Argentina that was a mountain pass, and there was like a four-hour delay for road maintenance and then a two-hour delay because of an electrical storm. We ended up getting through the border after maybe midnight. … It was one of the best stretches of payment in Argentina, and I found the only rock on it – that was a little bit smaller than a football – and hit it square on. Put a huge dent in the wheel, which disabled it. I didn’t go down, but I was kind of hanging on the handlebars with the rest of me up in the air. I used up one of my cats that night.
Do you seek adrenalin rushes?
No, I don’t need that kind of adrenalin rush again, but these things happen. When you’re doing adventure travel, there’s always the unexpected, which makes it exciting. I wouldn’t do these trips if they were boring.
Is banking boring?
In comparison, yeah.
Do you ever just want to quit and do something adventurous all the time?
No, I can’t do that. I feel like I’ve got responsibilities here, and I would hate for time away to become boring. I can’t see myself retiring, but after 34, 35 years here, I do have a little bit of vacation time, and I hate to let that go to waste.
Do you manage people in your job?
No, I don’t. I manage entities more than people. … I have a good relationship with the people I do manage, but performance reviews aren’t probably my most favorite part of the business.
Any other adventurous habits besides biking?
I’m just a regular guy. Raising children has been adventuresome, but not always in a good way. … I have one of each.
Would you like to say something positive so they don’t have to go into therapy over your comment?
Well, they give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
What’s something few people know about you?
I think few people know that I’m a rabid music collector. It’s an avocation that I do that I really don’t share with other people.
Most people don’t accept my recommendations on music. … My tastes are so offbeat. … Another thing people probably don’t know about me is I’m a passionate devotee of the Hammond organ. I just love it. From the ’40s and ’50s jazz era to current. I was a horn player, but I could listen to the Hammond organ all day long.
Isn’t that enough?