As a member-owned cooperative, FCS Financial has been providing financial products and services since 1916 to those who call rural Missouri home. We are the trusted lending source to thousands of Missouri farms and farm-related businesses because we understand agriculture, know what it takes to build and keep an agricultural business on solid financial footing and have experienced the ins and outs as well as the ups and downs of the ag industry. But donâ€™t just take our word for it. Read what our customers have to say about their experiences.
By Mark Parker
ON CALL IN THE PASTURE As he’s feeding a set of heifers at Clear Blue Ranch near Clinton, the pager clipped to Ken Holt’s belt beeps — for the third time in about 20 minutes. It’s a signal to call nearby Golden Valley Memorial Hospital where he spends a good share of his waking hours as an OB-GYN doctor. When Dr. Holt is not attending to patient needs, however, there are few places on the planet rancher Holt would rather be than out in the country, raising high-quality cattle with his family. Holt grew up in Lee’s Summitt when it was still a small town. As a boy he was the lot man for a large dairy and the strong pull of farm life stayed with him through 12 years as a pharmacist, then medical school and now his medical practice. “We love the cattle business, we love the country life,” he says. “Sometimes it means I’m out feeding the cows after midnight but it’s worth it.” The Holt family — Ken and his wife, Joyce, and children Emily, Aliza and Elijah — is developing a registered seedstock business featuring Angus, Simmental and Limousin genetics. They use artificial insemination extensively as well as bulls that exceed breed EPD averages. Holt also uses the experience to promote food animal production to the general public, emphasizing that humane animal husbandry can be practiced despite the claims of what he calls “illegitimate animal rights organizations.” He credits FCS Financial for helping the cattle operation get off the ground. “FCS Financial has been able to preserve some of that old hometown bank philosophy where you can say, ‘Hey, I have a great opportunity,’ and they are ready, willing and able to help you make it happen,” Holt says. “They’ve been able to identify the financing that’s the most advantageous for us.” He adds that the people of FCS Financial have been another asset. “They’re awesome,” he says. “Kristie Fisher, Kathy Ammons, Kaleb Drinkgern — everybody is so helpful. I consider them friends as well as business partners.” And it is the business FCS Financial helped get started for which Holt is especially thankful. “It’s a gift from God to be considered caretakers of the land and His creation,” he concludes.
HARVESTING FINANCIAL EXPERTISE When harvest time rolls around, the combine cab becomes Tony Koechner’s home. In addition to the 1400 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat he grows near Tipton, Koechner custom combines another 5,000 acres of fall crops and about 800 acres of wheat. “I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years,” explains Koechner who also does some custom planting. “I try to take care of my customers and treat their crops just like my own. We work together and it really works out pretty well — unless it’s wet and then they get anxious just like I do.” In addition to being a good income source, the custom harvest enterprise also enables Koechner to operate good equipment — something any farmer can appreciate. “I can justify trading combines every year with the additional acres and that’s good for my operation as well as my customers’ operations,” he notes. “Harvest is more efficient and more timely and that’s important to the bottom line.” Koechner and his wife, Connie, have five children —Mallorie, Kimberlie, Reagan, Karrigan and Meagan. In the all cash grain operation, he is currently adding bin space, using his grain storage to facilitate harvest as well as for marketing purposes. Koechner started doing business with FCS Financial in 2001 when he purchased some land. Since then, he has relied on FCS Financial for operating credit as well as some of his equipment purchases. “I work with Danny Young from the Sedalia office,” he says. “He has been very helpful. He knows the business, and I’ve been really impressed with him.” In addition to the competitive interest rates, Koechner also appreciates the financial advice he receives. Cash flow statements help him track the business and purchase analyses facilitate his business decisions. “On big purchases I may think it will work but they will make sure it makes sense financially,” he says. “That’s pretty reassuring considering the cost of things these days. I also really like the ability to lock-in longterm interest rates with the ability to periodically buy them down.” “And that patronage check is nice, too,” Koechner concludes with a smile.
AN INVESTMENT IN FAMILY The daily 4 a.m. drive to her job in Joplin convinced Dionne Zebert that something needed to change. “I wanted to raise my kids but it seemed like I was never home,” she says. Four years ago, the solution for Dionne and her husband, Larry, was to purchase a broiler facility near Pierce City. It was more than a business decision — it was an investment in family and future. “It’s been a great decision,” Larry says. “It’s allowed us to build something for our future and spend a lot more time together as a family.” At their “Chick-A-Boom Farm,” the Zeberts manage four buildings housing approximately 94,000 birds. With seven flocks a year, their annual total production is in the neighborhood of 650,000 broilers. Chicks arrive within a few hours of hatch and are finished about 33 days later — efficiently converting approximately 1.66 pounds of feed into a pound of meat. Raising broilers for Tyson, the Zeberts take a lot of pride in doing a good job — and they have a financial incentive as well. “We’re both very competitive,” Larry says. “We want our chickens to do the very best and we’re almost always in the top 10. We are paid for good performance but it’s more than that. This is our livelihood and Dionne and I are driven to do it well.” Constantly monitoring feed, heat, water and air is the key to accomplishing that, adds Larry who also operates a poultry house litter spreading enterprise. FCS Financial is alongside the Zeberts, helping the family — which includes daughters Bailey, Courtney and Kate — achieve its short-term and long-term goals. “I’ve never been with a better lender,” Larry asserts. “I don’t think you can beat them on rates and on top of that they’re very fair — they want us to succeed.” “They know their craft,” adds Dionne who is also a personal fitness trainer and competitor. “And they hire the right people. We work with Beth Luebbering and she’s just fantastic. She knows the poultry industry as well as finance. FCS Financial has been a partner in our success.” And for the Zeberts, business success is a very important component of family success.
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