At the age of twenty-nine, Mike Bernhardt founded and organized the Bank of Clear Lake National Association. He was the second-youngest man in the U.S. to charter a bank; Joseph Kennedy accomplished the goal at age twenty-seven.
Bernhardt conceived the idea, developed the land site for the bank’s location, and put together ten of the Houston area’s most prominent business leaders to invest in the venture and serve on the board of directors.
During the bank’s formation, Bernhardt had the good judgment to use the services of Robert Clarke, a Bracewell and Patterson partner who went on to serve our nation as the Comptroller of the Currency in the Reagan and Bush administrations.
Prior to the bank’s opening, Bernhardt negotiated a deal with the chairman of American National Insurance Company’s board of directors, Robert Moody. Moody’s family owned controlling interest in ANIC, one of the nation’s largest life insurance companies. Before the consummation of the deal with Moody, however, Bernhardt was approached by a group headed by Arthur Temple, who, at the time, owned controlling interest in Time Inc. and also holds controlling interest in Temple-Inland. A deal was struck, and the bank was sold to the Temple Group.
While maintaining his position with First Continental Life and Accident Insurance Company in Houston, Bernhardt founded and owned 90 percent of First Continental Diversified Inc., an employee benefit consulting company specializing in the implementation and administration of Internal Revenue Code Section 125 plans for small- to medium-sized corporations. Mike grew this company for eight years and sold it to his 10 percent partner.
After sailing the open seas for a year on his yacht, Bernhardt made Key West, Florida, his home.
Real estate had always interested him, and he had always known one day he would pursue a career in this dynamic field. As a Realtor in Key West, Bernhardt was consistently one of the area’s top producers, and he made a lasting impact in Key West when he developed a condominium project in the city’s historic district.
During his tenure as a Realtor in Key West, he specialized in investment-grade properties, and it was routine for him to deal with Fortune 500 company executives, negotiating on their behalf and securing financing.
In 2005, Bernhardt began liquidating his assets in Key West, and he moved to his home town of Fairhope, Alabama in 2006, where he developed a mixed-use property in the heart of the city’s downtown district.
Most recently, Bernhardt assisted his nephew, Mac Pulitzer, great-grandson of Pulitzer Prize founder Joseph Pulitzer, in an effort to create the first Pulitzer Hotel and the nation’s first and only Pulitzer Library.
Currently Mike is the owner of First Florida Insurance Abacoa/Stuart/Jupiter/Key West and Ally Senior Benefits located in Jupiter, Florida where he helps families and seniors in Florida, Texas, and Utah.