Being Thankful: November 26, 2008

Being Thankful

Earlier today, it was announced that our merger with Valley Farm Credit has been approved by our stockholders. Assuming we continue to meet our very aggressive schedule, the merger will be complete on December 31 and we will begin doing business jointly on January 1.

As you may have heard, we have decided to close our offices to the general public on January 2 so that we can test our systems and make sure that the technical part of our merger is complete and perfect. Our first priority in this merger, as with any project that we undertake, is to put the needs of our customers first. By closing our offices, we can ensure top-notch customer service on the following Monday (if there are any glitches, we’ll have the weekend to fix them).

Of course, I’m optimistic that there won’t be any glitches…and we’ll be back to business as usual by the afternoon of the 2nd, serving our customers. My goal when it comes to members is always to under-promise and over-deliver—as stockholders and owners, they deserve that. So, let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that everything goes as planned during the system transition.

Speaking of transitions, this is the week that I typically transition into “holiday mode.” I may not be ready to put up my own decorations (I never am), but I’m ready to enjoy looking at them on other people’s lawns.

This is also the time that I start thinking about all of the things that I’m thankful for. Here’s my list: I’m thankful that I work for an institution that puts its members first. I think that’s a great key to success—and it’s something that our fellow financial institutions are just figuring out now, as they’re looking at bailouts and buyouts. I’m thankful that we’re not in that boat.

I’m thankful, too, that I work with a great group of individuals who are committed to customer service. When I visit with customers, or see them at events, I hear great feedback on that commitment. I gave a presentation last week to one of our dealers—Binkley and Hurst—and one of the participants came up to me to rave about the great job that we do. This new member mentioned his growing anxiety with the reliability of the commercial bank he deals with…and saw us as a more stable provider. He made special note of saying that he appreciated the way we “hustled” for his business. I hear that a lot…and I probably don’t pass it on enough. So, please accept my deepest thanks for everything that you do to make Farm Credit a critical partner for our customers. Whether that means working on holidays, or staying late to finish a project, I am thankful for your commitment.

Finally, I’m thankful for the strong leadership that we have, on all levels. We have a strong leadership team here, as well as a thoughtful and enthusiastic board of directors that pushes me to challenge myself. I’m also thankful for the system leadership that we have right now, from the Funding Corporation to the Farm Credit Council. The financial market is challenging right now (did I just say that I like to be challenged? Maybe not quite this much!), and it looks like it’s going to continue that way through 2009. We’re all working together to do the right thing—and the right thing is to serve our members consistently.

I hope that your list of things to be thankful for is long, like mine (I didn’t even get into all the things I’m thankful for at home!!!) If you’re so inclined, feel free to share them with me. Because that’s something else I’m thankful for—the day-to-day interaction with all of you. Sometimes I get pretty busy with travel, and conference calls, but I’m never too busy to talk to someone from my team.

Best Thanksgiving wishes, to you and your family. If you’re traveling, travel safe.

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