Serving Northeast Agriculture, Commercial Fishing & Forest Products in 2018
The Nexus of Excellence and Change
The success of any business involves a commitment to excellence and a willingness to adopt changes that make a meaningful difference. Just like in the customer businesses we serve, Farm Credit East works to improve each and every year, and to evolve our organization to embrace the future.
In this edition of Financial Partner, our feature article discusses two Farm Credit East programs that are focused on change and taking the necessary steps to prepare a business for the future. The first is GenerationNext, a program that helps young folks develop the skills and knowledge to take on a greater role in the management of their businesses. It helps participants better understand all aspects of the business, including financial management, while focusing on key issues in human resources and employee communications.
Our feature article also addresses the other side of the coin — estate planning. While developing the next generation’s skills is important, there are also actions that the current generation of owners needs to take to ensure the long-term success of the business, while also planning for retirement. Estate planning is not without difficult challenges, but making the hard decisions now can benefit all involved.
We have also included an article about our “Voice of Customer” survey. If you were one of the 1,275 customers who provided your input to this survey — thank you! If not, hopefully we will catch you next time. While our survey results indicated high levels of satisfaction, we do this survey to identify areas for improvement as we look to constantly enhance the customer experience. While there are many things to learn, the survey results strongly suggest that our keys to success are making it easy to do business with us, maintaining staff with a very high level of expertise and keeping our focus on helping you to be successful. These will continue to be our priorities as we plan for the future.
We also know that you want an organization that is financially sound, including a strong patronage program. As highlighted later in this issue, based on strong 2017 financial results, your Board of Directors approved a record patronage distribution of $60 million paid to eligible customers in late February. This resulted from a record $160 million in earnings, which allows us to build capital for the future while sharing our success through patronage.
Also featured in this issue is an interview with Jim Putnam, reflecting on his 43 years with Farm Credit. In so many ways, Jim has been my right-hand partner in managing Farm Credit East’s success, and at the end of March, he will retire.
Jim embodies what excellence is all about. He has helped build our financial services and lending efforts; he has been a tireless advocate for staff training and development; he has provided economic insights and analysis for our benefit and that of our customers; he was key to the development of our customer service council program; and he has been instrumental in our outreach efforts to strengthen Northeast agriculture and natural resource-based businesses.
There is little that Jim’s expertise has not touched in Farm Credit East. His knowledge and skills have been a great asset, but it’s his unsurpassed commitment to the success of Farm Credit East and the customers we serve that will be missed most.
We are grateful for all of Jim’s contributions, and as we look towards the future of the association, Mike Reynolds, our new chief business officer, along with other senior management members and the entire Farm Credit East team, stand ready to build on Jim’s legacy of accomplishments.
We look forward to working with you in 2018. Our commitment to your success is what drives this cooperative every day. On behalf of the Board and staff, thank you for the opportunity to support, grow and transform with your business.